Dee Gordon begins spring training on the outside looking in for a spot on the major league roster, but the 25-year-old is looking to turn some heads in Dodgers camp.
"I'm looking to get better, and get better everyday," Gordon said. "Get ready for a long season, to help this ball club win games."
Manager Don Mattingly said Gordon weighs over 160 pounds this spring, up from 140 pounds at the start of spring training in 2011.
"I put on a little weight," Gordon said. "Mainly got stronger."
Gordon started 73 of the first 83 games at shortstop for last season, but dislocated his thumb on July 2. When he returned in September, both Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz were entrenched in the left side of the infield, and Gordon didn't start another game.
"That was my first time being hurt for an extended time, definitely tough," Gordon said. "I came back to a different situation. It is what it is. There's a business part, but I am a man and you got to handle stuff as a professional."
It helps to have a 21-year major league veteran as a father, in Tom Gordon, to rely on for advice.
"He was there for me," Gordon said. "It is amazing to be able to have him in my corner, to help me at times."
Though Gordon struggled mightily by hitting .228/.280/.281 with 18 errors at shortstop, manager Don Mattingly still has high hopes for him.
"I know from my myself and the organization's standpoint, we still have a lot of confidence in Dee, in what he can do and what he's going to do," Mattingly said.
But where Gordon will do it to start 2013 appears to be not in Los Angeles, assuming health for shortstop Hanley Ramirez and third baseman Luis Cruz.
"We'll see what happens. With different scenarios you don't know what pops up in spring training. But we're going into spring training with the idea that Hanley is going to play short for us," Mattingly said. "The only one who is going to move Hanley is Hanley. As long as he's working and continuing his process and looking like he'll be fine, then that's the way we're going."
Could there be a scenario where Gordon plays so well in spring training that he forces Ramirez off shortstop, to third base?
"I'm not going to move Hanley," Mattingly repeated. "Hanley is going to move Hanley."
It seems that if Gordon doesn't win an every day job with the Dodgers (i.e. if Ramirez and Cruz are hurt), then he will most likely end up in Triple-A Albuquerque.
"If it gets to that situation, you don't do a guy a whole lot of good (to sit on the bench). For young guys in general, you don't want them sitting on the bench watching games, if they're not going to be playing consistently," Mattingly said. "If that's the case you have to do what's best for Dee and what's best for him in the long run."
But with Ramirez away on one and perhaps two stints during spring training for the World Baseball Classic, Gordon will get to play some shortstop in spring training games, and he plans to make the most of his opportunity.
"I look forward to play baseball, have fun doing it," Gordon said. "You know like I said , I just want to help my team win. Just play hard and show them what I can do."