Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly has had plenty of decisions to make thus far, as well as dealing with injuries to some of his top pitchers.
One decision that loomed all spring was what the team would do at second base, where they had a handful of candidates competing for playing time. In the end, Mattingly went in the direction of a platoon with Dee Gordon and Justin Turner, leaving Chone Figgins on the bench and Alex Guerrero in Triple-A.
Well, it’s been eight games and Gordon has started six of them, leading all starters in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.407) and stolen bases (3). His early success is an extremely small sample size, but leads me to believe that Mattingly must give Gordon the everyday gig and let the speedy infielder sink or swim.
Turner is 29 years old and has played over 100 games in a season just once in his career. At this point, the Cal State Fullerton product has become a role player that can fill in around the infield. While he may be able to handle the rigors of being an everyday player, Turner has done well as a player off the bench.
With Gordon, the Dodgers have a 25-year-old that was expected to be the shortstop of the future just a couple years back. He was not able to handle major league pitching and struggled defensively, leaving him in the minor leagues for the majority of the past three seasons. In the off-season, Gordon went to work on his outfield skills outside the country in the winter league and also put on 15 pounds of muscle. What many have seen from the speedster this year is a maturity and willingness to learn that was absent in years past.
Meanwhile, Guerrero has yet to play a game with the Albuquerque Isotopes because of an oblique issue and will need at least a month of games before the Dodgers consider promoting him. This gives Mattingly some time to see what he has in Gordon. Dropping the platoon won’t change much, considering Gordon already faces right-handers that make up a majority of the games, but it will give the 25-year-old a sense of belonging with the team. If Gordon struggles in the full-time role, the Dodgers can always give Turner or Figgins a few starts or simply bring Guerrero up. There’s no reason for Gordon to sit every few days, especially with his defense being as solid as it has been.
Mattingly did say that he would want Gordon to take over the everyday role and the early success could prompt that eventually; however, there is no reason to wait. Let him take on the duties and see if he can become a contributor to a potential World Series-bound team. We will never know Gordon’s true potential until he is given a full chance.
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