Rather, the change was explained as an endorsement of
"It seems like that's the place where Dee is the freest," Mattingly said.
Two years after a failed experiment to make him the Dodgers' everyday shortstop, Gordon is flourishing as their primary second baseman.
He leads the major leagues with 12 steals. He entered the series against the Rockies with a .357 average and .395 on-base percentage.
"Hitting him seventh is kind of OK because he can still run a little bit, but up there, he can cause havoc, especially if he continues to get on like this," Mattingly said.
Gordon's emergence might permit Mattingly to do something with the top of the lineup that he been unable to do with the outfield: Introduce a measure of stability.
With Gordon batting leadoff and
"I feel like Carl's swinging the bat really well, honestly," Mattingly said. "He's hitting the ball on the nose. I feel we can use him there. He'll have a chance to drive in runs. He also can still run. We feel like we have a better lineup with him right there."
Gordon and Puig produced immediately.
Puig hit an opposite-field home run off
Gordon's infield double in the third inning led to a run that tied the game 2-2.
That wasn't a misprint. Gordon reached second base on a ground ball that didn't leave the infield.
He slapped a ball to second baseman
Gordon scored on a single by Puig.
In the hours leading up to the game, Gordon reflected on his road here.
"I didn't have a position," Gordon said. "I didn't have anywhere to play. Coming up and down last year, that was eye-opening. That just let me know nothing's promised to me. No matter what you're doing, this game isn't forgiving."
Gordon matured. He doesn't want to say much about it, other than that it involved faith and prayer.
He said his personal development made him more patient. When triple-A hitting coach Franklin Stubbs told him in
Earlier in his career, Gordon explained, "I needed results. Results, results, results, results."
Now, he said, he is more open to sticking with a plan — in this case, hitting the ball on the ground.
"He's learning to flatten the ball more, back it up and hit the ball on the ground on the left side," Mattingly said. "When you flatten the ball out and hit the ball lower and hit line drives, your chances of getting hits are a lot better."
Mattingly wondered if Gordon's development was stunted by his early promotion to the major leagues. Gordon, who didn't play organized baseball until his senior year of high school, was the team's opening-day shortstop at 23. "Now, two years later, we're starting to see what we thought we had," Mattingly said.