LOS ANGELES — Dee Gordon stands on first base. He glances at the pitcher. He takes his lead.
Everyone in the building knows he’s looking for a time to go.
But what’s Gordon thinking?
"You better be safe," the Dodgers all-star second baseman says with a laugh. "That’s No. 1."
Gordon’s swiped enough bags to stand alone as the MLB leader in stolen bases but he’s also been caught a fair amount of times (second in MLB in caught stealing). It’s those times that he dreads because he knows he’s going to hear it from Dodgers first base coach Davey Lopes.
"After I’m not safe I don’t like to hear him get on me," Gordon said of Lopes. "He gets on you and he don’t play. I been thrown out a few times so he’s been on me."
Lopes preaches patience and patience comes from experience — both of which Gordon is gaining every time he takes the field.
"I just want him to, sometimes, to be patient," Lopes said. "And sometimes he has to learn that he’s not as fast as somebody that can throw a baseball. He thinks he can. He thinks he’s Cool Papa Bell or something. That’s just youth. That’s inexperience."
While Gordon may not be able to turn off the lights and hop under the covers before the room gets dark, it’s tough to tell he doesn’t think that way when he’s on the basepaths. These days he’s playing with a ton of confidence. However, it wasn’t too long ago that his confidence, which has gone a long way in helping him become an all-star this season, wasn’t there.
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After having 330 plate appearances at the big league level in 2012, 2013 saw Gordon spending the majority of his time in Triple-A Albuquerque.
When former Dodger Dusty Baker was the manager of the Reds, he pulled Gordon aside and told him "You can’t cry your way to a starting job you got to work your way to it."
Gordon wasn’t crying or whining but he took Baker’s advice to heart.
"I took it and ran with it," Gordon said of Baker’s advice. "I said he’s right. I ain’t going to cry about it. I got to go ahead and do my thing."
A huge part of what helped him become an all-star is what he’s doing on the basepaths. Gordon is swiping bases at a breakneck pace.
Earlier this season, he stole his 50th base in his 110th game of the season. To put that in perspective, since 1958 the only Dodgers to steal that many bases in less games are Maury Wills, Lopes, and Eric Young. Wills and Lopes did it twice.
Wills accomplished the feat in 80 games in 1965. It took Lopes 100 games in 1976.
Today, Lopes thinks Gordon is on the brink of being one of the game’s best.
"I believe in a relatively short period of time he’ll be the best in the game and I told him that and that’s why I tell him the things I tell him because I know that he has the ability to do that," Lopes said. "And that’s what the expectations are. It’s between him and the kid in Cincinnati (Billy Hamilton). They’re going to be the new generation of base stealers that are going to excite people."