What will be the challenges of Dee Gordon’s transition to CF for Mariners?
In some important ways, center field is actually the easiest of the three outfield positions to play. And when it comes to the skills that benefit a center fielder the most, Dee Gordon has them in abundance. But don’t take that to mean the one-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman’s transition to his new position is going to be automatic.
Chris Prieto, Mariners first base coach – and the member of the staff assigned to coach the outfielders – laid out the challenges Gordon is facing while talking to the Hot Stove show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
“I don’t think there will be a problem at all whether or not he can go track a baseball,” said Prieto, who has twice traveled to Florida this offseason to work with Gordon. “I think it’s gonna be more in spring training just kinda getting the feel for the speed of the game in the outfield and seeing runners run in front of him instead of by him and just understanding throwing to bases and that kind of stuff. … The basic things – attacking ground balls, getting behind fly balls. He’s not covering a base anymore, he’s covering ground, and he’s gotta work with two other guys out there, so he’s just gotta get used to that unit.”
If anything, the amount of reps Gordon sees in February and March will have the biggest impact in him learning his new position.
“I hope he gets tested (in spring training),” Prieto said. “That’s the thing – we need him to get tested as much as possible so that by the time spring training’s over and the season starts he’s got a real good comfort level to play.”
As someone who has played both second base and shortstop in his MLB career, Prieto explained that Gordon is actually at an advantage moving to another spot up the middle. And he has tools you can’t teach that are the exact reason Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto decided to trade for Gordon and put him at a brand new spot on the field.
“As far as athleticism, he’s off the charts, exactly what you want,” Prieto said. “… He’s such a smooth runner, he’s got great feet, obviously he closes in with his speed. I mean, it’s impressive physically.
“Gosh, this guy impresses me a lot. He is such a worker, he’s got a fire, he wants to be perfect in everything that he does, and I can’t wait to get started in spring training with him.”
You can hear the full interview with Prieto at this link.