The second game of Spring Training had a horrible start. Within the first minutes of the game and the first four pitches, Zack Greinke felt something in his right calf and had to come out of the game. After he threw his third pitch to Cliff Pennington, Greinke hopped off his right foot noticeably uncomfortable. The Dodgers still managed to beat the D-backs 4-3 thanks to two RBIs from Juan Uribe. Uribe hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. Uribe and Andre Ethier had two hits each while Alex Guerrero and Brendan Harris both had RBI singles.
Feb 26, 2014; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon (9) throws out a runner at first during the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the game 4-1Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Dee Gordon went 0-for-3 with a flyout, groundout, and a forceout. The beefed up Gordon started at second base, and I continue to not mind Gordon there. Alexander Guerrero started at second base for game one, but Gordon may be the better defensive man at the position at this point. Gordon has some more time at second base than Guerrero has. The Cuban shortstop is trying to adapt to a new country and a new position which is not an easy task to quickly transition through for most. While Yasiel Puig‘s raw talents simply could not be contained in the minor leagues, he is a different type of beast altogether. We can’t put the same expectations on Guerrero.
That being said, Guerrero should transition to second base fine. He seems to be a bit nervous and tight at the plate, but maybe after playing in more games and facing more MLB pitchers, he will start to break through. His defense has been fine, but Gordon is the one who made the dazzling defensive play during Thursday’s game.
I’m starting to think that Dee may be better at second base than at shortstop. He can still use his acrobatic athleticism at second base, but there is far less sailing errant throws when he’s playing second base. Today Gordon made an excellent play at second, stopping a sure thing single up through the hole. He knocked it down, and got up and made a solid throw to first to get the out recorded. It was one of the best defensive plays I have seen by a Dodger during these first two games.
Dee Gordon gained muscle this winter not only to add potential power to his bat, but he also wanted to send a message to management that he was serious about finding a place on this team. From what I know, Gordon has been positive about his rebranding in the organization and was fully willing to work at other positions like second base and the outfield. I can’t say that I’ve seen him play center field, but the times I’ve seen him play at second I’ve thought he held his own.
Gordon’s speed doesn’t seem to be curbed at all from his weight gain. We saw him run down the line to try to beat out a groundout in
Feb 27, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon (9) warms up prior to the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday’s game. The problem area lies in the fact that Gordon cannot get on base often enough to utilize that speed. Gordon’s speed is a secret weapon that the Dodgers could use in key pinch-running situations or hit-and-run type plays. Don Mattingly unfortunately doesn’t call for those plays very regularly, so Gordon’s speed has been underused and misused for most of his career.
If Gordon could somehow find that swing he had during his first season with the Dodgers back in 2011 when he hit .304 with 68 hits, .325 OBP, and 24 stolen bases in 56 games and 233 plate appearances, he could really be a great addition to Dodgers bench. In 2012, Gordon played in a career-high 87 games for the Dodgers, but he only hit .228/.280/.281. Gordon collected a disastrous 18 fielding errors in 2012, and he fell out of favor for the role of starting shortstop for the Dodgers especially once Hanley Ramirez was traded for.
Dee played in three games at second base last season, and he has yet to commit an error in regular season games at his new position. Gordon has to make the adjustments in order to be successful at the plate. He needs to keep the ball on the ground in order to create more opportunities for him to beat them out and reach base. Gordon has the potential to be a league leader in stolen bases if he could ever put things together right.
Flawed, yet still talented. Dee Gordon’s speed on the base paths is a sight which is one of the more exciting nuances within the game. Like Yasiel Puig’s cannon throws from the outfield, Clayton Kershaw‘s killer curveball, or Juan Uribe’s smooth backhand snags at third base, Gordon’s speed is a special gift only possessed by a small number of baseball players.
Unless he’s solely used as a pinch-runner, Dee Gordon is going to have to continue to work hard to solidify his defense at second. He’ll also need to break out and hit this Spring in order to beat out some of these other non-roster utility infielders vying for a bench spot. Gordon’s time is running out, and he needs to have the Spring Training of his life in order to secure a spot on the squad. The Dodgers need speed in their lineup, but Gordon’s speed can’t be untapped unless he unleashes his bat.