In some ways, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto taking a chance when he traded for Dee Gordon during the offseason.
Dipoto acquired the speedy two-time All-Star to play center field, something that grabbed a lot of attention considering Gordon has won a Gold Glove at second base and never played the outfield as a pro.
But with Gordon fitting in just fine in center two weeks into the 2018 season, the Mariners are getting to enjoy the other benefits of having a player with Gordon’s offensive capabilities as their leadoff hitter.
Asked by Danny O’Neil if Gordon has been exactly what the Mariners had hoped for, Dipoto replied, “Even more.”
“He’s been remarkable in terms of being a catalyst,” Dipoto said during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore. “It seems like every game he’s out there (on base) to start it off.”
Gordon is hitting .333 through 10 games with a .378 on-base percentage, and he has a 16-game hitting streak that dates back to last season with Miami. He’s been effective once on base for Seattle, as well, stealing five bases.
Not only that, Gordon has been not just serviceable but quite good in the outfield even though he’s still learning the ins and outs of the position.
“He’s played what I think is excellent defense for the most part,” Dipoto said.
“What he brings to the team … (is) he finds a way.”
Edwin Diaz’s dominant start to the season
Another player Dipoto is happy about is closer Edwin Diaz, who has thrown five scoreless, hitless innings to begin the year.
“He has a look on his face, he has a confidence to him,” Dipoto said. “He has been awesome since the start of this season.”
Diaz has struck out 12 of the 18 batters he has faced entering Friday, and even though he had a shaky first outing on opening night, hitting two Cleveland hitters and getting called for a balk before getting the save, Dipoto thinks that may have actually helped him get locked in.
“That first outing he had against Cleveland where he teetered on the edge and he got it done in front of a big crowd, I think really it got him going,” Dipoto said. “Right now, he is … consistent in the strike zone, as consistent with executing the slider and the velocity really hasn’t dipped below 96. He has been 96 to 99 mph.”
It’s a different Diaz, Dipoto said.
“It’s not normal Edwin Diaz where he will occasionally spray the ball around and then ultimately miss a bat later in the count. He’s going after these guys and it is three or four pitches and he’s just putting them down and moving on. His efficiency and maturity has come so, so far.
“Right now you’d be hard pressed to find anybody in the league that’s throwing the ball any better than him at the back of a bullpen.”