One of the pleasant surprises for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season has been Dee Gordon’s emergence at second base.
Gordon has all but made a seamless transition to his new position and with it has come consistent contributions at the plate. The 26 year old began Thursday with a .287 batting average and MLB-best 52 stolen bases.
This season has been one filled with plenty of firsts for Gordon, who’s played in over 100 games for the first time in his career and made his first All-Star Game.
While manager Don Mattingly understandably has kept Gordon in the lineup, he spoke of needing to guard against wearing him down, via Joe Morgan of MLB.com:
I’m trying to keep him at 170 pounds, basically,” Mattingly said. “I don’t want him getting worn down and trying to have to get back up the hill. I’d rather have him kind of stay there and stay strong.”
Including Thursday, Gordon has started 108 of the 116 games he’s appeared in and last had a day off on Aug. 7. Given his style of play, Mattingly also said mental rest is key for Gordon:
A guy like Adrian [Gonzalez] gets on first and they’re not throwing over there. Dee gets on first and he’s got to, they throw over four times,” Mattingly said. “With his focus, he never gets to turn it off and relax on the bases at all. I think, mentally, with him as much as anything, and he takes a beating just diving headfirst and everything else.”
The Dodgers have Miguel Rojas and Justin Turner who are capable of filling in for Gordon, though neither are natural second baseman. Perhaps with that in mind, the Dodgers traded for Darwin Barney, a Gold Glove winner at second base in 2012.
Gordon’s next step will be expanding on his limited role in the 2013 postseason, when he served as a pinch-runner. Assuming the Dodgers reach the playoffs, Gordon will be counted on to continue serving as the spark at the top of the lineup and steady hand at second base.
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