Dee Gordon’s hard work leads him to All-Star team
As Yasiel Puig spoke Sunday about his selection to the All-Star game, he noticed Juan Uribe walking out of the clubhouse.
In Puig’s sweater.
In Puig’s jeans.
In Puig’s shoes.
“Hey, old man, you’re leaving with that?” Puig shouted in Spanish.
A smiling Uribe walked out the room, prompting Puig to chase him down. Everyone from players to the equipment managers roared with laughter. But if there were light-hearted moments like this in the aftermath of the Dodgers’ 8-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, there was also time for reflection.
Here’s why: Dee Gordon was an All-Star.
“It was an amazing feeling, just where I came from,” Gordon said.
Of the four Dodgers who were selected to represent the National League, it was Gordon of whom their teammates were proudest.
“He’s been through a lot,” said pitcher Clayton Kershaw. “Playing all sorts of different positions, had to go and try the outfield, he’s been everywhere. So for him to get to second base and excel the way he has and play the way he’s played the first half, it’s just a huge testament to him and his work ethic and his character.”
Gordon was the opening-day shortstop in 2012, but encountered a couple of major obstacles. The first was major league pitching, which he couldn’t hit. Then, there was a dislocated thumb he suffered in the middle of the season.
By the time Gordon returned from the disabled list, the Dodgers had acquired Hanley Ramirez to replace him at shortstop.
He spent most of last season at triple-A Albuquerque, where he started his conversion to second base. Over the winter, he played in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, starting some games in center field with hopes of expanding his skill set to earn a place on the Dodgers’ roster.
Gordon became the team’s primary second baseman this year almost by default.
The Dodgers thought the position would be played by Alex Guerrero, a Cuban defector whom they signed to a $28-million deal over the winter. But Guerrero didn’t look ready in spring training, particularly with the glove. With no other viable options, the Dodgers turned to Gordon.
Gordon now leads the major leagues in both stolen bases (42) and triples (nine).
“It’s awesome,” said pitcher Josh Beckett. “Once you have that, nobody can take that away from you. That’s special. It didn’t come easy for him. He had to change positions. I think everybody, during spring training, expected him to fall on his face. This is the reward.”
Gordon was told of his selection by Manager Don Mattingly.
“I almost cried when Donnie told me,” Gordon said. “It was an amazing feeling.”
Gordon’s first phone call was to his father. Gordon watched his father, Tom, pitch in three All-Star games. Now, it would be his father’s turn to watch him.
Gordon then shared the news with his mentors, first base coach Davey Lopes and veteran utility man Chone Figgins.
“He almost had me crying,” Figgins said.
Figgins and Gordon work on their bunting together, often before most of their teammates show up at the stadium. Figgins talks to Gordon in the dugout during games, making sure his mind doesn’t wander after a disappointing at-bat.
“This is the start,” Figgins said he told Gordon. “This is what happens when you work hard and believe.”
Gordon promised he would continue to push forward.
“I’ve got to keep going,” he said. “We have a long season. We have playoffs coming.”
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