Drayer: New dad Dee Gordon arrives to Mariners camp in unfamiliar role
Dee Gordon arrived at Mariners camp Friday as expected, days after the birth of his first child. The new dad appeared still a bit awestruck when he spoke of the life changing experience of being there for the birth of his daughter, the ultimate reward for he and his wife after months of anticipation.
“She was looking to me like ‘I know your voice.’ That was kind of tight,” he said. “I’m just happy to be there, happy for my daughter to be happy. Life is good.”
Life on the homefront is indeed good for Dee Gordon. Life on the home team however? How Gordon would react to being one of the few veterans remaining in the clubhouse as the Mariners embarked on the “let the kids play,” part of the rebuild was a question many had with his position going to one of those kids, Shed Long Jr.
It’s no secret that Gordon wants to play and wants to play at his preferred position, second base, where he won a Gold Glove. It’s probably also no secret that in an ideal baseball world, the Mariners would have been able to trade Gordon to a team that could better utilize him. That did not happen. Instead, Gordon finds himself in a very different situation, his position in eyes not taken away, rather, given away.
“They’ve got a good opportunity here so they have got to take a chance at it,” he said of the young players. “I’ve never walked into a locker room where young guys have positions. They are not going to get it until they have to go out and compete. When they go out there and do that, that’s when they become big leaguers for a long time. They need to take advantage of this and be grateful for it because this doesn’t happen very often for young players.”
Gordon pointed out that when he was coming up with the Dodgers, he had to take the position from Rafael Furcal. A broken thumb and largely ineffectual first two months by Furcal opened the door, but Gordon cemented the deal hitting hitting .304 with 27 stolen bases in his first 233 big league plate appearances.
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, he pointed out, was in the same boat as he took the position from Chone Figgins. Gordon was brought up in the game in a very different way than what we are seeing with the Mariners right now. If you have been looking for a trace of old school in this new era, he is here to provide it.
“What I am going to do is I am going to play hard and lead by example,” he said. “If you can’t follow my example, you don’t need to be in the locker room. Simple.”
That extends to the man who has taken, or been given, his position, who just happens to be a good friend – they have the same agent – and one is of his workout partners, Long.
“We grown men now, he got to play. He’s a grown… man, he’s got to play. Shed stays at my house, but he’s got to play,” he said.
While Gordon will look for the young players to be accountable for their performance, there’s been housecleaning of his own to take care of. Gordon admitted to reporters that it had been a little while since the best Dee Gordon had been seen. He had lost his tenacity in 2019.
“Honestly, I got bored with losing,” he said. “Marlins didn’t win, came here, we didn’t win. I got bored with losing. I lost my tenacity. Anything that happened in these last 2 years, that’s on me. Got to take a strong man to look in the mirror and tell yourself and that’s how I feel but it’s not going to be on me anymore. I was just floating through last year just to get to the offseason. I wasn’t in the greatest spot mentally, it’s just baseball now. Now I got that little girl, even before she came, before even last year ended, I started working toward this year. I been watching (Portland Trailblazers guard) Dame Lillard a lot. Trash team but he tried to put them on his back. That’s what I usually do. I had to get that back.”
While there could be some tough love for the young players around him, at the end of the day for Gordon, it is about giving his best where he is.
Despite this year being about growing young players, Gordon wants to compete. He wants to put the team on his shoulders, whatever that team is. With is new baby girl and the return of his focus and tenacity, he feel prepared for whatever lies ahead of him. His role on the team regardless of position or at bats, is clear to him.
“I’m going to make sure every single day, every single hour, I’m not taking a pitch off, I’m not taking an at bat off. I’m not taking a stolen base off. Get ready, you are going to see something fine. I’m the best player in the locker room, I’m the best player when I walk on the field. Ya’ll will see, that’s all you have got to do is watch.”
“Let’s do it. Buckle it in. I lost myself last few years, my tenacity, it’s back.”