Saturday, April 28, 2012
Dee Gordon still batting first
By Tony Jackson
LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon isn't moving out of the leadoff spot. Not right now, anyway.
That was Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's stance when asked before Saturday night's game against the Washington Nationals and the big league debut-ing Bryce Harper. This despite Gordon's .224 batting average and .268 on-base percentage, and the fact that even Mattingly admitted Gordon looked lost at the plate Friday night, when he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, one unsuccessful attempt to bunt for a hit and one popup, the one thing Gordon absolutely can't afford to do given his skill set.
"I could think about (moving Gordon down in the order), but then I would have to find a guy to lead off," Mattingly said. "At this point, I don't really feel I need to do anything a whole lot different. We have been able to sustain, kind of, what we have been doing and keep riding this thing."
Mattingly pointed out that Gordon's struggles primarily have come against lefties, who have held him to a .120 average, but his OBP against righties is only .321, far below the optimum level for a leadoff man. After all, you have to actually get to first base before you can steal second base.
"(Friday night), I didn't think he looked very good," said Mattingly, referring to a game in which all four of Gordon's fruitless at-bats were against Nats lefties Ross Detwiler and Sean Burnett. "He has obviously struggled with lefties, and we have seen quite a few of them. He really has held his own against right-handed pitchers. He has tried to bunt and done some of that. But (Friday), I felt like he just didn't stay in there with guys.
"For me, with Dee, this is all part of it. We didn't think he was just going to come out and tear it up. It's all part of his growing process."
Meanwhile, Mattingly said he was hoping outfielder Juan Rivera, who hasn't played since Tuesday because of a hamstring injury, would be available to pinch hit on Saturday night; and that reliever Todd Coffey still is on track to come off the 15-day disabled list as soon as he becomes eligible Sunday but hinted that Coffey might be pushed back one more day because the Dodgers want to keep Nathan Eovaldi in the bullpen for possible long relief duty with Chris Capuano scheduled to start on Sunday. Although Mattingly didn't say it, Eovaldi is the most obvious player to be sent back to the minors when Coffey is activated.
Here is tonight's lineup:
Dee Gordon, SS
Tony Gwynn, LF
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Hairston, 2B
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, RH