Dee Gordon was one of the first Dodgers position players to show up in camp at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, having been here for over a week already, with the first reporting day not until Monday. Manager Don Mattingly likes the second year shortstop at the top of the batting order, and sees a ton of potential.
"We really just think he's going to get better and better. This kid can hit. Obviously we want him to walk a little bit and be able to work a pitcher, and we saw him able to do that a little better as the season went on," Mattingly said on Sunday. "He came back the second time, off that injury, he was a little more patient, understanding when to take a pitch and when to be more aggressive. As he knows the pitchers a little better, we are going to see a guy who grows."
Gordon hit .302/.325/.362 in 56 games with the Dodgers in his rookie season, and did show improvement in his second stint with the club. In his first time in the big leagues, last June, Gordon hit .232/.250/.280 with two walks and 16 strikeouts in 85 plate appearances. After he was recalled on July 31, Gordon hit .345/.367/.408 with five walks and 11 strikeouts in 148 PA.
"Obviously you want a guy up there who gets on base a lot. His speed definitely profiles [at leadoff]," Mattingly said of Gordon, who had a .355 on-base percentage in four minor league seasons. "It's a time issue with Dee. I don't think we can say, 'We want you to walk.' I think we want to let him hit, let him be himself, and let him progress into the role."
Gordon worked in the offseason on his defense with Barry Larkin, and also went to Texas to work with bench coach Trey Hillman as well. Mattingly called Gordon's speed "dynamic" and praised his work ethic, saying, "That's kind of what we love about Dee, that he's always trying to get better and keep working."
"He doesn't scare us in any way," Mattingly said of Gordon. "We expect him to make some mistakes, we expect him to not be the perfect guy right now. We expect him to keep getting better and let that ability shine."
B Game In The Works
The Dodgers are trying to setup a B game with another team on Sunday, March 4, the day before Cactus League play begins. The White Sox are the most logical choice as they share the Camelback Ranch complex, and Mattingly said he would prefer facing another team rather than playing an intrasquad game. Adding a B game would allow Clayton Kershaw to pitch two innings and remain on schedule for his March 9 Cactus League debut.