PHOENIX — Dee Gordon will be used primarily as a pinch-runner this month, but Manager Don Mattingly said he still views the 24-year-old as the Dodgers’ shortstop of the future.
“You know what? I’m not sure what everybody’s thinking, but personally I think Dee’s going to be a great player,” Mattingly said. “He brings something that no one else can bring.”
Such as speed on the basepaths and range at shortstop.
Mattingly insisted he wasn’t saying any of this to bolster the trade value of Gordon, who was one of three players called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Gordon’s future has been in question in recent months. The light-hitting speedster tore a tendon in his thumb in July, after which the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez. General Manager Ned Colletti said Ramirez would play shortstop only until Gordon returned to the lineup, but Luis Cruz’s emergence as a viable option at third base has kept Ramirez at shortstop.
Gordon was on a minor league rehabilitation assignment in Albuquerque, from where he was called up along with utilityman Elian Herrera and pitcher Stephen Fife. Gordon was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list.
He batted .267 in eight games with Albuquerque, but Gordon argued that his numbers didn’t reflect his performance.
“I swung the bat well and lined out a lot of times,” Gordon said.
When Gordon was injured July 4, he was batting only .229 but leading the National League with 30 steals.
“This is a guy that needs to get on base better,” Mattingly said. “He’s got to make better decisions, as far as the speed of the game, when do I try to make a great play, making that bread-and-butter double play.”
Mattingly acknowledged that Gordon, who didn’t start playing baseball until his senior year of high school, was rushed to the major leagues. Gordon will get some extra schooling in the off-season, as he is expected to play winter ball.
For now, Mattingly plans to use him in late-inning situations, either as pinch-runner or part of a double switch.
“For the most part, we’re looking at him as a guy who can come off the bench, steal you a bag, when you need to score a guy from first, something like that,” Mattingly said.
Kennedy shut down
Adam Kennedy’s season is over, but the 36-year-old utilityman isn’t ready to call it a career.
Kennedy, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a strained groin, said he intends to play next season.
“If I didn’t think I could do something for a team, I’d have other thoughts,” he said.
Kennedy will be a free agent this winter. A Southern California native, he said his preference would be to remain with the Dodgers.
Kennedy batted .262 with two home runs and 16 runs batted in in 86 games, including 40 starts. He was injured in San Francisco last week and moved to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Gordon.
“Terrible timing,” Kennedy said. “You play all year for these last couple of weeks here, whether you win or lose, to be a part of it. That’s the toughest part.”
Gwynn won’t return
Outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. could have become a free agent when he was designated for assignment last month. Instead, Gwynn opted to go to triple-A Albuquerque with hopes that he could be called up by the Dodgers in September.
That won’t happen.
“I don’t think we’re going to see T this year,” Mattingly said, adding that the Dodgers don’t have a way to add him to the 40-man roster.