The Los Angeles Dodgers played an exhibition game against Team Australia on Thursday and they’re now just days away from ringing in the 2014 regular season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. As Spring Training progressed, it became evident Dee Gordon was the favorite to start at second base and likely bat in the bottom half of the lineup. Manager Don Mattingly stated he was considering placing Yasiel Puig at the top of the lineup come the regular season, but Thursday brought a different outcome.
Gordon led off against Team Australia and according to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, he’ll likely serve as the lead off hitter for the two games of the Opening Series:
Don Mattingly hasn’t officially announced his starting lineup for the first game of the Opening Series, but the one he put on the field for Thursday’s exhibition game against Team Australia will probably be repeated when the Dodgers face the D-backs on Saturday night at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Along with taking hold of second base with a dependable glove, Gordon showcased improvement in reaching base safely and running the basepaths. While starting at multiple positions through 18 spring games played, the fleet-footed Gordon hit .286 and posted a .326 OBP. More impressively, Gordon wasn’t caught stealing and finished a perfect 9-for-9. One reason Mattingly provided for his consideration of having Puig in the lead off spot was his belief that the young Cuban isn’t quite an RBI man just yet.
However, Puig may also not be best suited as the lead off man given his moments of low discipline at the plate. If Gordon, a career .256 hitter, can carry over his success from the spring into the regular season, it will allow for Mattingly to move Carl Crawford or Puig down in the order, which in turn gives the Dodgers a deeper lineup. Gordon’s ability to steal a base at a high percentage also makes him that much more of a threat for the group of power hitters that would follow him.
ICYMI: Dee Gordon talked about the Australia trip, postgame meal and music