What Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said he remembered most about Dee Gordon’s first stint in the majors wasn’t his speed or his swing.
Speaking about the shortstop prospect the Dodgers sent to triple-A Albuquerque on Monday, Mattingly recalled a recent conversation they had in the infield during batting practice.
Gordon wasn’t hitting and Mattingly asked him about the kind of adjustments he was thinking of making against certain pitchers. Mattingly said he liked what the kid was telling him, that he liked how he was thinking.
Later in the conversation, Mattingly said Gordon told him, “I want to be the best.”
“He showed me he wants to be great,” Mattingly said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
General Manager Ned Colletti said he was most impressed by Gordon’s intellectual and emotional maturity.
“He has a real good feel for the game,” Colletti said. “He was able to slow things down more than not.”
Gordon, 23, batted .232 and stole six bases in 11 tries in 22 games with the Dodgers. With Rafael Furcal back on the active roster, Gordon faced the prospect of decreased playing time, something that was unacceptable to management.
“This is the best thing for Dee right now,” Mattingly said. “If Dee’s going to be here, he needs to be playing.”
Mattingly said he expected Gordon to be back in the majors at some point this season.
Gordon’s spot on the roster was taken by utilityman Eugenio Velez, who was batting .335 in triple A.
Mattingly said he thought Gordon would benefit from the knowledge that he can play in the major leagues.
Gordon sounded certain of that fact as he removed his belongings from his locker and put them into his travel bag.
“I can play at this level,” he said. “That’s not even a question in my mind.”
Campaigning for Ethier
Saying he would log on to mlb.com to cast an All-Star vote for Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, Mattingly asked fans to do the same.
Ethier, who started in the All-Star game last year, is one of five players competing for the final spot on the National League team.
Balloting concludes at 1 p.m. Thursday.
“Hopefully, Andre is the guy,” Mattingly said. “I would love to see him playing in his home.”
Ethier grew up in Arizona and Phoenix will play host to the game.
Velez wasn’t told why he was scratched from the Albuquerque lineup Sunday.
“They didn’t say anything,” Velez said.
Did he think he did something wrong?
“I didn’t know,” he said.
Velez later learned he was being called up.
Velez, 28, hit .256 over parts of four seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He played in 29 games for the Giants last season, batting .164. He signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers over the winter.
Colletti said he liked the versatility of Velez, who can play the infield and outfield.