Dodgers Report: Barry Larkin
March, 1, 2012
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Jake Roth/US Presswire
You know Dee Gordon has come a long way since last spring training. A year ago, people were talking about his upside, wondering how far away he was from the majors, drooling over how exciting a player he was going to be when he got there. Now, even as they praise his ability, they also whisper about his shortcomings.
Not that he has that many.
That is what happens when a player goes from a highly touted prospect to a full-fledged big leaguer, a guy who comes to camp not to make a good impression on the coaching staff and the front office, but who arrives as the Dodgers' everyday shortstop and leadoff hitter.
Gordon spent the winter trying to get better at that everyday shortstop thing, traveling to Texas to work out with Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman, staying home in Florida to work out with Hall of Famer-elect Barry Larkin and reporting to spring training almost two months early to work out with Dodgers minor league infield coordinator Jody Reed, all in an effort to develop a more cerebral approach to a position he previously played with an exciting flair but also with wild abandon.
"That was all about defense,'' Gordon said. "They talked to me a lot about certain things I need to see and watch out for instead of just relying on athleticism all the time.''
It's the leadoff hitter thing where Gordon still has room to improve. Or, more to the point, his on-base percentage has room to improve. The encouraging part, though, is that it already has improved, even though his overall OBP as a rookie was .325, marginal at best for a guy hitting leadoff.
But when Gordon came to the majors for the first time last year -- knowing it probably was going to be temporary because Rafael Furcal was on the disabled list but also admittedly trying too hard because he wanted to make it a tough decision to send him back down -- he posted a .250 OBP, drawing just two walks in 85 plate appearances and striking out 16 times.