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Dodgers' Dee Gordon gets picky — then gets hits

Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon was benched in May — to help him slow the game down and regain his swing, Don Mattingly says. It worked.

June 16, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dee Gordon was batting .287 with a .354 on-base percentage in his last 23 games entering Saturday.
Dee Gordon was batting .287 with a .354 on-base percentage in his last 23… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )

Dee Gordon has rediscovered his swing.

Gordon was batting .287 with a .354 on-base percentage in his last 23 games entering Saturday. The fleet-footed shortstop stole nine bases in 10 attempts during that stretch.

"I'm not swinging at everything," said Gordon, who is in his first full season as the starting shortstop and primary leadoff hitter.

Gordon credits his newfound selectivity on a three-game stretch in which Manager Don Mattingly held him out of the starting lineup last month. When Gordon was benched on May 19, he was batting .200.

Mattingly wanted him to take a mental break and watch the game from the distance, hoping that would help him slow down the game.

It did, and it didn't take long.

Gordon entered the game as a late-inning defensive replacement on May 20 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Never known for his plate discipline, Gordon drew an eighth-inning walk in that game from hard-throwing reliever Mitchell Boggs.

"Dude was throwing like 98 mph, and it looked like it was 85," Gordon said.

Gordon couldn't explain how that happened.

Mattingly compared hitting a baseball to driving a car passing another traveling in the opposite direction.

"One's going 70 mph this way, one's going 70 that way; it feels pretty fast," Mattingly said. "But if you're able to stand in one spot and watch 70 come at you, it's not really that fast. You can see it from a distance and it's kind of slow coming. I think, as a hitter, if you start to slow down up there, your mind's not racing, you're not jumping, you start to see the ball coming better a little bit."

Gordon was eased back into the lineup. When he returned to the lineup on May 22, he did so as the Dodgers' No. 8 hitter. He remained there until June 3, when Mattingly moved him back into the leadoff spot.

Mattingly said it was important to move Gordon back to the top of the lineup to free up his running game. Gordon entered Saturday with 21 steals, second in the National League.

Lasorda returns

Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda made his first appearance at Dodger Stadium since suffering what the team called a mild heart attack on June 4.

"I just wanted to get out for a little bit," Lasorda said.

Lasorda, 84, said he planned to stay for only five innings or so. Told that watching the Dodgers probably isn't good for his heart, he smiled and replied, "It's probably what got me there, watching them."

The Dodgers have played in 30 one-run games including Saturday's, 17 of them victories.

Lasorda was in good spirits. He insisted that a bearded reporter shave, saying beards are for ugly people who want to hide their faces. At that point, he turned to one of the Dodgers' spokesmen and said, "You should be wearing one."

Short hops

The Dodgers are not interested in Manny Ramirez, who was released on Friday by the Oakland Athletics.... Mattingly doesn't play tennis but has developed tennis elbow. "I've been giving too many bunt signs," Mattingly joked, referring to criticism of how often his team bunts.

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