New Marlins 2B Dee Gordon motivated by breakout ’14, offseason trade
In 2014, Dee Gordon got the breakout season he had been seeking, the validation that he could be an everyday player in the big leagues.
After making the National League All-Star team, Gordon closed out the year with a .289 average while leading the majors in both triples (12) and stolen bases (64).
And yet, 64 days after the Los Angeles Dodgers saw their season prematurely end in the playoffs, they dealt him to the Miami Marlins during winter meetings. Since then, the move has pushed Gordon even more this offseason.
"It actually helped I think knowing I have to work hard and continue to work to be good," Gordon said. "It motivated me to actually work harder."
Gordon, who turns 27 in April, lifted four days a week at Competitor Gym in Maitland, Florida, and did agility drills — to help his trademark speed — on Wednesdays. Over the first few months, he lifted once a day, but that got kicked up to twice a day over the past month.
The workout routine began on Nov. 6. from 7:30 to 8 a.m. He continued at 10:30 a.m. before lifting again at 4 p.m.
On Dec. 1, Gordon started baseball work at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High School with some noteworthy company. Hall of Famer Barry Larkin instructed Gordon, Boston Red Sox infielder Jemile Weeks and Tampa Bay Rays infielder Nick Franklin, among others. He has been tutored by Larkin for three to four years.
"There’s been a lot of stuff (he has taught me)," Gordon said of Larkin. "I can’t just pinpoint one thing. He teaches you a lot. He’s a great teacher."
Perhaps the greatest lesson for Gordon came through experience, by playing in 148 games in 2014. Prior to that, he appeared in just 181 games from 2011-13 with a .255 average, 19 doubles, five triples, two home runs, 34 RBI and 66 stolen bases.
With his 2014 performance, Gordon gained confidence by proving to both himself and others he belongs in the big leagues. His potential continues to grow.
"I can play at the major-league level — at a high level — and be one of the best players in the league," Gordon said. "I always thought I could, but I was able to put it together. It means a lot because you don’t really have to prove anything to anyone else. All in all you have to look yourself in the mirror every day and tell yourself you did good."
Like his new teammates, Gordon is eager for spring training. He drove down to the complex in Jupiter, Florida, last Tuesday night to get acquainted with the medical and conditioning staffs. Gordon has been in touch with right-hander Jarred Cosart, who went against him in the minor leagues, as well as slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who also attended the 2014 All-Star Game.
During a three-game series at Marlins Park last season, Gordon went 9 for 15 with four runs, three RBI and four steals. He piqued the interest of Miami’s front office with his lethality at the plate and on the basepaths. That stretch of play perfectly epitomizes his game and what the Marlins hope he brings at the top of the lineup. Gordon is excited about this new beginning with a new team.
Despite his impressive 2014, some still doubt his ability.
Will his defense be a liability? The former shortstop committed 12 errors at second.
Was the first half an anomaly? His numbers before the All-Star break were as follows: .292, 14 2Bs, 9 3Bs, 2 HRs, 25 RBI, 43 SBs. And after? .284, 10 2Bs, three 3Bs, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 21 SBs.
Can he get on base more frequently to warrant the leadoff spot? He posted a .326 OBP.
"Just try to make sure I stay accountable and show that I can do the routine play routinely every time," Gordon said. "That’s what I try to do: Be accountable. If I can be accountable my numbers will be OK."