LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2013 — Dee Gordon made a big splash when he was first called up to the Dodgers in June 2011. Gordon stole 24 bases in 31 tries and put up a .304 batting average. Offensively, he was everything he was billed to be.
Defensively, Dee Gordon made 10 errors in 2011, which was good for a .954 fielding percentage. By comparison, Troy Tulowitzki led all shortstops with a .991 fielding percentage in 2011.
The Dodgers were hoping that 2012 would see Dee Gordon establish himself as one of the better shortstops in the game. Not only did this did not happen, the exact opposite happened. Gordon’s second year and what should have been his first full season brought a harsh regression.
Gordon was batting .229 when he was sent down to the minors after Jul 4. He also committed 17 errors in the field. The truth is, Dee Gordon probably was not ready to be the full time short stop and needed more seasoning in the minor leagues.
With Hanley Ramirez starting the season on the DL, Justin Sellers got the nod at shortstop solely for his defensive skills. Dee Gordon started the 2013 season in AAA Albuquerque and the Dodgers were hoping to keep him there for the entire year.
Gordon was doing well in Albuquerque, batting .314 with 14 stolen bases in 25 games, when Hanley Ramirez went on the DL for the second time. Instead of turning to Justin Sellers or Luis Cruz, who are both looking more like pitchers at the plate than hitters this year, Dee Gordon got the call.
Fielding was the main reason the Dodgers wanted Gordon to spend the year at AAA. He has committed one error since being called up and has a career high fielding percentage of .974 this year. Dodger manager Don Mattingly said, “His first couple games, I thought defensively were a little rough, but ever since, he’s been great.”
Through nine games, Gordon is batting .265 with five stolen bases in six attempts. His .359 on-base percentage is the highest it has ever been in his career. “I’m just trying to get a good pitch to hit, you know, not really trying to hit every pitch. I don’t necessarily look to get on base or get a walk. I just do my thing to help the team,” Gordon said of his approach at the plate this time around. “I feel like when I do my thing, it works out pretty well.”
Once on base, Dee Gordon has the green light to steal. “I go whenever I want,” Gordon said. Davey Lopes has been working with Gordon to help improve his base stealing ability. “He gives you tips, but it all comes down to execution,” Gordon said.
Gordon is doing everything he should be doing to stay on the Dodgers roster. Asked if Gordon could stick with the team when Hanley Ramirez returns from the DL, manager Don Mattingly said, “Sure. We talked about it when Dee came up. You know, it’s an opportunity every time you come and you force somebody’s hand. I think Dee’s been solid.”
When asked about whether he would be willing to switch positions when Hanley Ramirez returns, Gordon said, “No, I’m not going to talk about it right now. We got a game tomorrow, I’m playing shortstop tomorrow. So I’m not going to talk about that.”
It remains to be seen what will happen when Ramirez returns. For now, Gordon has at least three more weeks to prove that he can be an everyday player at the major league level and that he can beat Matt Kemp one on one in basketball. Gordon feels confident on both counts that he can be successful. His future is definitely in his hands.
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