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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Gordon ignites Dodgers offense

By Tony Jackson



GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dee Gordon has speed. Dangerous speed. Exciting speed. Electrifying speed.

We saw it in the first inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Cactus League game on Tuesday, a 7-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers before 6,348 at Camelback Ranch, when Gordon got one into the wind and was rounding second base by the time it came down at the base of the center-field wall, and when he contemplated for just a moment trying to come all the way around before he put on the brakes just past third base and scampered back with a leadoff triple.

But the other thing we are learning this spring -- or maybe we already knew and just needed a refresher course -- is that with Gordon, the Dodgers' shortstop and leadoff hitter who is entering his first full season in the majors, it isn't just about the speed because he is a pretty exciting offensive player, as well.

Gordon went 3-for-4 with a single, a double that would have been a single for just about any other player in the league and the aforementioned, first-inning triple, scoring twice in the process, to raise his spring average in a single afternoon from .250 to .313 (10-for-32). More importantl for a leadoff hitter, his on-base percentage ballooned to .405.

So maybe it's not just about stolen bases and infield singles after all.

"I have been trying to tell you guys that," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the media after the game. "This guy can hit. There are areas where he still needs to get better, and (opposing pitchers) will try to do things as the season goes on that he will have to adjust to, but I just feel like this guy is going to be a good hitter."

Gordon's double came on a second-inninng blooper on which Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez attempted to make a diving catch. Right fielder Nyjer Morgan was backing up on the play, and the ball caromed almost directly to him when Gomez missed it. Not that it mattered much, though, because by the time Morgan fired the ball back in, Gordon was diving into second base.

*****

Andre Ethier continued to show an aversion to singles, slamming a two-run homer off Marco Estrada in the fifth inning. With that, Ethier had 11 hits, with 10 of them -- six doubles, two triples and two homers -- having gone for extra bases.

Ethier continues to destroy Cactus League pitching, as he is hitting .440 with a team-leading nine RBIs and a .483 OBP.

*****

Chad Billingsley pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and five hits, in his fourth start of the spring. ... Monday's MRI exam on infielder Ivan De Jesus's left oblique showed a torn muscle that is expected to sideline De Jesus for at least several days. De Jesus had little chance of making the opening-day roster. ... The Dodgers (9-5-4) host the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, with Ted Lilly scheduled to make his fourth start of the spring.