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Dodgers look for Dee Gordon to set the tone

There's talk of the 23-year-old shortstop stealing a lot of bases and creating havoc on the basepaths, but first he must get on base consistently, something he hasn't done this spring.

March 18, 2012|By Jim Peltz

Reporting from Phoenix -- The Dodgers are excited about speedster Dee Gordon as their leadoff batter this season, with talk of Gordon stealing 50 or 60 bases, rattling opposing pitchers and igniting big rallies.

But first he has to get on base.

Gordon is batting .250 (seven for 28) with four walks this spring after going hitless in two at-bats Sunday and one for five in Saturday's game.

The 23-year-old shortstop is aware that his first priority is getting aboard, but said he doesn't feel undue pressure at the plate.

"Not at all," Gordon said. "You try to put up a good at-bat and see what happens. That's everybody's job."

There's also the recurring question of whether Gordon, 5 feet 11 and 150 pounds, can withstand the rigors of a 162-game schedule.

Asked what he would like to see from Gordon this year, Manager Don Mattingly replied, "[To] stay healthy, that's the biggest thing, basically keeping him on the field."

Added Mattingly: "We don't really plan on him playing 120 [games], I'm looking at him more like 150. He's going to get some days off, but he's pretty much the guy."

Ivan De Jesus is injured

Infielder Ivan De Jesus strained an abdominal muscle, jeopardizing his chances of being on the opening-day roster as a reserve.

"It's hard to compete [for a job] when you can't be out there," Mattingly said. "It's not a good time to get hurt, no doubt about it."

De Jesus, 24, was injured while swinging during an at-bat Saturday night and was scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday.

"I feel good today," De Jesus said Sunday. "I thought it was going to be worse."

As for the opening-day roster, he said, "I'm not thinking about that right. I'm just thinking of getting better and getting back to the field as soon as possible."

Latest roster moves

The Dodgers released left-hander Alberto Castillo, and reassigned to minor league camp pitchers Will Savage, Matt Chico and Ryan Tucker; infielders Lance Zawadzki and Jeff Baisley, and catchers Gorman Erickson and Matt Wallach, son of Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach.

Nathan Eovaldi tunes up

It's unlikely Nathan Eovaldi will start the season with the Dodgers, but the right-hander likely will be called up if someone on the starting rotation is sidelined.

Eovaldi, 22, pitched well again Saturday, throwing three scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies. In 10 games with the Dodgers last season, he was 1-2 with a 3.63 earned-run average.

"Right now, he'd be the first option" to replace a starting pitcher, Mattingly said.

Eovaldi said he's prepared.

"Whatever they plan for me, I just want to be able to show them I'm ready," he said.

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