By John Philip Wyllie
It is going to be hard for San Diego Surf Dawgs jack-of-all trades Nick Guerra to top his 2005 season. Guerra, a local product out of University of San Diego High School was selected as the Golden League’s Rookie of the Year last season. He was also a major contributor to the team’s 2005 championship run. So far this season the team has struggled to a slow 4-9 start, but Guerra has remained one of its bright spots.
“Nick has played three different positions for us already (catcher, third base and first base),” said former San Diego Padre catcher and current Surf Dawgs manager Terry Kennedy. “I want to get him behind the plate some more because that is his best shot to make it into affiliated ball. He has been working on his switch hitting and he is much better right handed than he was last year. I know I can rely on him and he doesn’t (complain) even if I play him out of position. He made a great play the other night (playing at his latest new position, first base.)”
Now seven years out of high school and married with an infant daughter, it has been difficult for Guerra to maintain his playing career. Players in the Golden League need to be either independently wealthy (like Ricky Henderson) or have second jobs. Guerra installs sky lighting by day and then races over to the ballpark to play after work. It is not easy, but you won’t hear Guerra complain about it.
“I enjoy every minute of the time I am out here. It is a bit of a grind, but it is baseball. It is great playing for Terry Kennedy and great to hang out with these guys.”
With a wife and infant child to support Guerra has to balance his enthusiasm for baseball with the practical concerns of being a good husband and father.
“I need to be the provider for my little family and I can’t have them suffer because I want to be a ball player. A while ago, I was getting ready to call it quits because I felt that I needed to move on in life. My wife is the reason that I am still playing. She has been so supportive. She said it would be cool to have my daughter grow up around the ball field and be able to watch her dad play, so I’ve decided to stay with it. I will keep playing as long as she is O.K. with it.”
Over the last few years Guerra has been playing winter ball in Ensenada.
“It is very different playing in Mexico. They play for pride down there and there is so much passion. They will run face first into a wall to make a play. The competition is really intense.”
“I was drafted by the Monterrey Sultanes last year and I was going to go into their (minor league system) and play for what would be equivalent to a AA team up here. You make better money there, but it just didn’t work out. I would have had to move (and leave his wife and child behind). At this point, I just want to get the most that I can out of baseball. Once my daughter reaches the age where she can learn another language and culture living in Mexico I would consider doing something like that. I think I will end up there eventually.”