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Dodgers looking for more than speed from Dee Gordon

March 07, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Dodgers' Dee Gordon runs the bases during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on Feb. 25 in Glendale, Ariz.
Dodgers' Dee Gordon runs the bases during a spring training game against… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )

PHOENIX -- Dee Gordon stole two bases in the Dodgers' win over Mexico on Wednesday. And he stole two more against the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

But Manager Don Mattingly would rather not talk about Gordon's blinding speed, but concentrate instead on some of the other things Gordon has done, like his double to left field against Mexico. Or the four runs he scored in the last two days.

"The thing that we’re asking from Dee this year is we want to see a baseball player," Mattingly said of Gordon, whose first sport in high school was basketball. "He’s not worrying about any kind of numbers. I told him, I said, 'When they quit talking about how fast you are and say hey, this kid’s a baseball player, then we’re going to be in great shape.' "

"Because that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a baseball player. And that’s kind of our main goal this year. Let Dee become a baseball player."

That not only means Gordon has to swing the bat better and play better in the field. It also means being more intelligent and selective at the plate and understanding the situation better when he's batting.

And that, Mattingly said, will make him a tougher out and raise his on-base percentage, a stat he believes is a crucial part of Gordon's game.

"We want him to get his on-base percentage up," Mattingly said. "If we want him to be a guy that can hit at the beginning of the order, you’d like that guy to get on base to be able to use his speed. It doesn’t do him a lot of good to be really fast if he can’t get on.

"But more than anything we want him ... working on his swing, playing the game, understanding what the pitcher can do. So many little things that we don’t really talk about.

"So we’re trying to build a guy that plays baseball."

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