Dee Gordon reacts as he pops out earlier this week. (Harry How / Getty Images )
Shortstop Dee Gordon was out of the Dodgers’ lineup on Saturday as part of Manager Don Mattingly’s plan to rest him for a few days.
“We came to the conclusion I have to watch the games,” Gordon said.
Doing so, Mattingly figures, could help Gordon mentally slow down the game.
“I’m going to give you these next few days as working days,” Gordon said he was told by Mattingly.
The Dodgers’ leadoff hitter, Gordon was the only starting position player to not reach base in a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals the previous night. Gordon was 0 for 5, dipping his average to .200.
“We all go through challenges,” Gordon said. “I’m going to back up a little bit, learn from it. I’m not going to get down about it and I’m not going to stop working. It’s on me. I’m going to try to make this a learning experience. It is what it is. I can’t change what happened. But I can determine how hard I work, how much work I put in.”
Mattingly said he would like Gordon to remain the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter, but was vague when asked about the 24-year-old’s role when he resumes playing. Tony Gwynn Jr. will lead off Saturday.
On the subject of hitting at the top of the lineup, Gordon said, “Honestly, man, if I do, if I don’t, it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m helping this team.”
Gordon doesn’t think he is being pitched any differently to than he was last season, when he hit .345 in his final 34 games.
“They’re actually pitching me pretty much the same,” he said. “The game’s speeding up and I’m not hitting the same pitches I used to hit. It’s probably more mental than anything.”
Gordon said his free-falling batting average isn’t the primary source of his frustration.
“It’s about me not picking up my teammates,” Gordon said. “I’m a very team-oriented guy. I get a little frustrated with myself when I’m not helping out the team in situations. I know I need to be on base for the team. It’s not happening right now, but if I keep working, it will.”
Gordon has received words of support from Matt Kemp, who talked to him about his own ups and downs as a young player.
“It’s the game,” Gordon said. “You have to go through it. I’ve always been told nothing good comes easy.”
Like Kemp, Gordon’s off-the-charts athletic ability allowed him to be fast-tracked to the major leagues. The downside of that is that, like Kemp was, he is burdened with the inflated expectations of fans. And, like Kemp did, he has to learn the finer aspects of the game in the spotlight of the major leagues as opposed to the relative privacy of the minors.