Heading into Spring Training this season one of the question marks the Los Angeles Dodgers faced was at second base. But, they had a plan.
The team signed Alex Guerrero out of Cuba, a natural shortstop who was going to slide over to the other middle infield position. Guerrero played winter ball, but was slowed by hamstring issues; he nonetheless was the trendy pick to be the Dodgers’ second baseman come Opening Day.
However, when the Dodgers took the field in Australia, it was Dee Gordon at second base and it remained that way for the entirety of the season. For some, probably most, Gordon had become an afterthought.
Gordon suffered a thumb injury in 2013 that along with Hanley Ramirez’s arrival, put an end to his time as the starting shortstop. With an All-Star season at second base under his belt, Gordon reflected on the trying times last fall, via Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider:
Hungry. I was hungry going into the winter. I was mad. Upset more than anything because they had nowhere to play me. Last year my job was taken. We just signed Guerrero. I was told I was going to be a super-utility man. That’s the only way I would see the field. I was mad. I thought, ‘I have to do something. I have to make something shake.’
The Dodgers instructed Gordon to work on playing center field, which he did, along with playing second base in two winter ball stints:
So I worked. Worked. Worked. More than anything I worked. Grinding. People say, ‘Is he tired?’ because I’ve been playing nonstop since last year. I went to winter ball twice. … I played for a month in the Dominican. Hit like .360 doing the same things and feeling good. I stopped playing for a month and a half, then went to Puerto Rico to play. I hit like .400 there and still felt good.”
The off-season work Gordon put in certainly paid dividends as he established himself as an everyday player at the Major League level. Not only did he solidify second base for the Dodgers, Gordon also became a threat at the top of the lineup.
Playing in a career-high 148 games, Gordon hit .289/.326/.378 and stole an MLB-best 64 bases; he also led the Majors with nine triples.
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