Trade helped Gor­don

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez


MI­AMI — By trad­ing Dee Gor­don to the Mi­ami Mar­lins over the win­ter, the Dodgers ban­ished the Al­lS­tar sec­ond base­man to a base­ball waste­land.

Af­ter a 7- 1 de­feat to the Dodgers on Fri­day night, the Mar­lins dropped to 15 games un­der .500. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Mar­lins Park was empty.

Only Gor­don didn’t sound up­set when he ref lected on the seven- player trade.

“Heck no,” he said. “This is home.”

Gor­don was born and raised in Florida. He has a 78- year- old grand­mother who lives a cou­ple of hun­dred miles north and rides the train into town al­most ev­ery other week­end to watch him play.

“She never got to see me in L. A.,” Gor­don said.

Plus, Gor­don thinks the Mar­lins have pro­vided him

with the set of cir­cum­stances that have al­lowed him to f lour­ish.

Gor­don col­lected three hits in the se­ries opener against his for­mer team and now has 110 for the sea­son, the most in base­ball. He is bat­ting .356 and leads Na­tional League sec­ond base­men in All- Star bal­lot­ing.

The Dodgers start­ing pitcher, Brett An­der­son, com­pared Gor­don to Nori Aoki, the lead­off hitter for the San Fran­cisco Giants.

“Kryp­tonite lefty speed guy,” An­der­son said.

Gor­don man­u­fac­tured a run on his own in the f irst in­ning. He reached base on an in­field sin­gle, stole sec­ond, ad­vanced to third on a ground­out and scored on another ground­out. The run would be the only run scored by the Mar­lins.

Gor­don has stolen 26 bases. He has also been caught steal­ing 10 times.

On a team like the Dodgers, who top the NL in home runs, Gor­don said he might feel re­luc­tant to run. The Dodgers are last in the ma­jors in stolen bases, with only 14.

On his way to steal­ing 64 bases last sea­son, Gor­don said he was con­cerned about tak­ing the bat out of the hands of his team’s power hit­ters.

The Dodgers sent Gor­don to the Mar­lins in De­cem­ber, along with start­ing pitcher Dan Haren. In ex­change, the Dodgers re­ceived util­ity man En­rique Her­nan­dez, righthander Chris Hatcher, mi­nor league catcher Austin Barnes and pitch­ing prospect An­drew Heaney.

Heaney was f lipped to the An­gels in ex­change for Howie Ken­drick, who be­came Gor­don’s re­place­ment at sec­ond base.

The Dodgers, who also paid the Mar­lins $ 12.5 mil­lion to cover the salaries of Haren and Gor­don, thought they sold high on the sec­ond base­man.

Gor­don had a break­out sea­son last year, not only be­com­ing the Dodgers’ start­ing sec­ond base­man but also earn­ing a place on the NL Al­lS­tar team. But af­ter the Al­lS­tar break, Gor­don walked only four times and had an on­base per­cent­age of .300.

Gor­don de­fended his late­sea­son per­for­mance last sea­son, point­ing to his .284 aver- age af­ter the All- Star break.

He also ac­knowl­edged he was phys­i­cally worn down from hav­ing spent his off- sea­son play­ing win­ter ball in both the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic and Puerto Rico.

“How can you phys­i­cally be strong if you played all win­ter?” he said. “You can’t.”

Gor­don has also made sig­nif­i­cant gains on de­fense.

Fangraphs, a base­ball sta­tis­tics web­site, cred­its him with 8.9 de­fen­sive runs saved, by far the best in the ma­jors among sec­ond base­man. Next is Ad­di­son Rus­sell of the Chicago Cubs, at 5.9.

Head­ing into spring train­ing with the Dodgers last sea­son, Gor­don was pre­pared for a util­ity role. He spent some of the win­ter in cen­ter f ield, some at sec­ond base.

“I thought I was pretty good for a guy you just threw out there,” Gor­don said.

He cred­ited his im­proved de­fen­sive acu­men to Mar­lins in­field coach Perry Hill.

“He’s the best in­field coach I’ve ever had,” Gor­don said. “I know what I’m do­ing on that side of the ball now. He ex­plains it to where it’s this, this and this.”

Gor­don in­sisted that he doesn’t be­grudge the Dodgers for trad­ing him.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity they gave me,” he said.

If Gor­don has moved on from the trade, so have the Dodgers.

Ken­drick has been one of the Dodgers’ stead­i­est de­fen­sive play­ers this sea­son. On Fri­day night, he was four for five with a run bat­ted in to in­crease his av­er­age to .286.

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