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Dodgers lacking a spark as Dee Gordon tries to ride out slump

Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon could lose his spot in the lineup if he continues to struggle at the plate
The Dodgers can't have their leadoff hitter batting .171, as Dee Gordon has in his last 20 games.

No one thought Dee Gordon was going to keep that .350 batting average going forever. Not Gordon, not his daddy, not the truest Dodgers fan.

But no one thought he would crash quite this badly either.

Gordon got off to an absolutely remarkable start. He went from a platoon player at second base to seizing the spot outright. The converted shortstop hit like crazy, stole bases the way everyone always envisioned and played a better defensive second base than could have been rightfully expected.

Through his first 28 games, Gordon was hitting .355 with a major-league-leading 19 stolen bases out of the leadoff spot. Cuban Alex Guerrero, signed in the off-season for $28 million to play second, was back at triple-A adjusting to American baseball.

Only now Gordon is scuffling and Guerrero is out an undetermined time after getting half his ear bitten off by former teammate Miguel Olivo in a May 20 dugout fight in Albuquerque.

And if Gordon doesn’t turn it back around, the Dodgers could be in trouble.

They can’t have their leadoff hitter batting .171 (14 for 82), as Gordon has in his last 20 games.

“It seems like he just hasn’t been able to get on the last couple games,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “His at-bats look OK.”

If they look OK, it’s barely. Tuesday night he went hitless in four at-bats in the 4-1 loss to the White Sox, striking out twice and flying out three times (one going for a sacrifice that drove in their only run).

Gordon has been more successful when he hits the ball on the ground or bunts to utilize his great speed. Neither of which he has been doing with the same frequency as earlier in the season.

“Who knows if he’s getting a little worn down?” Mattingly said. “That first month he was kind of on fire. He’ll hit that streak again. We just have to make sure we watch after him a little bit, but he’s going to be fine.”

The Dodgers had previously been concerned how the slightly built Gordon would hold up over the course of a full season. But one of the changes to his game this year was showing up to camp with an additional 15 pounds of muscle following an off-season weightlifting program.

Mattingly gave Gordon Monday night off against a left-hander, and there could be more such platooning in his immediate his future. But with Guerrero out, they really have nowhere else to turn for a full-time second baseman.

Not that they want to. When Gordon is going right, he is a dynamic presence. He still leads the majors with 34 stolen bases.

It’s just that right now that dynamic presence is struggling.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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