The Dodgers aren’t particularly high on Dee Gordon.
The club made that clear last season when they gave him just 23 starts at shortstop even though Hanley Ramirez was limited to 86 contests due to injury. They drove the point home that they don’t view him as an everyday player when they had him work in the outfield and at second base in winter ball, prepping him for a possible future as a utility player.
Yet, here we are, just 11 days away from the Dodgers’ first game of the season, and Gordon is looking like the club’s starter at second base.
It’s not as if Gordon has ripped the cover off the ball this spring to force his way into the lineup, as he’s hitting just .185/.267/.333 over 30 Cactus League plate appearances. Cuban defector Alex Guerrero, who was signed to a $28 million deal over the winter with the thought that he’d take over as the starting second baseman, is out-hitting Gordon this spring with a .250/.308/.375 line that includes a grand slam. However, reports on Guerrero’s defense have been less than flattering, and the Dodgers appear to be convinced that getting him some minor league seasoning is the way to go.
Obviously, Gordon’s calling card is his speed, and it’s really his only tool. He essentially has a season’s worth of plate appearances in his career (669) and has swiped 66 bases while being caught just 19 times over that span. That he was able to steal that many bags despite a career .301 on-base percentage speaks to how often he runs when he does manage to get on base.
If Gordon is indeed in the lineup on March 22 in Sydney, he’s surely going to bat eighth. That obviously limits the number of times he’ll get up to the plate, but, as I already mentioned, the 25-year-old has shown that he doesn’t need a ton of at-bats to pile up steals. If he’s in the lineup, he’s going to run. The question is how long the Dodgers would put up with his weak bat before they decide to roll the dice on Guerrero or someone else.
Fantasy owners would be wise not to expect a full season out of Gordon, but he certainly makes for a nice speed option while he’s getting playing time.
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Another Injury Issue for the Braves
The Braves are still holding their breath, crossing their fingers and hoping for good news when it comes to Kris Medlen and his right arm injury. But that’s not the only ailment that they’re worried about.
Brandon Beachy on Monday became the second Atlanta starter in as many days to exit his Grapefruit League outing with an injury. The 27-year-old right-hander had to leave after two innings due to tightness in his elbow and biceps, something that he later admitted he’s been dealing with for a few weeks.
"I'm not worried at all about it," Beachy told MLB.com. "I've seen the doctors, and they've done everything. My ligament is fine. I've got some inflammation in there and it got a little too tight in my bicep. It was just unproductive to keep pushing and fighting through it. I'm not scared at all. I didn't come in here feeling 100 percent. This is something I've been dealing with. It had been getting easier the harder I threw and the harder I pushed. Today, it just got a little too tight on me."
It appears that Beachy has probably avoided a serious injury, but he’s dealt with tightness in his pitching arm and had velocity issues all spring. That doesn’t sound like something that’s going to go away overnight. A trip to the disabled list to start the season seems to be a likely scenario.
With Beachy probably out for a while, Medlen probably out for even longer and Mike Minor’s (shoulder) status also somewhat up in the air, the Braves could possibly make a run at free agent Ervin Santana. The veteran right-hander is reportedly looking for just a one-year deal and would make for a nice stop-gap in the Atlanta rotation.
Starter Injury Updates
The Braves aren’t the only team dealing with injuries in their rotation. However, in the cases of the following starters, the updates are all good.
Cole Hamels will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, which is the first time he’ll be on the bump since he suffered a setback with his shoulder tendinitis last week. Given that the left-hander has battled tendinitis in the shoulder since his offseason throwing program and suffered a setback when he tried to ramp things up, the Phillies figure to proceed cautiously here. Hamels probably isn’t a good bet to pitch at all in April, but Wednesday’s session is a nice step.
Zack Greinke could be back in Cactus League action as soon as Wednesday after throwing another issue-free bullpen session Monday. The right-hander also went through fielding drills Monday, which is a big deal since his injury is to his calf. While Greinke will not pitch either of the Dodgers’ two games in Australia, he should be good to go for their first series back in the U.S. versus the Padres.
Doug Fister will play catch on Tuesday, which will be the first time he’s thrown since he had to be scratched from a start last Friday due to inflammation in his pitching elbow. You have to have some level of concern when an injury involves the elbow, but all signs point to this one being minor. Fister is looking like a good bet to be ready for the start of the season.
Deduno Leading Battle for No. 5 Spot
The Twins made a couple big free agent pitcher signings over the winter (Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes) and also brought back one hurler of their own (Mike Pelfrey), but there’s still a spot in the rotation up for grabs.
Samuel Deduno "appears to be the slight favorite" right now to land the fifth spot, which isn’t a surprise since most figured that he entered camp as the favorite. Deduno posted a 3.83 ERA over 18 starts for the Twins last season, though it came along with an ugly 67/41 K/BB ratio across 108 frames. He had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September but has looked healthy this spring, putting up a 1.35 ERA over his first three Grapefruit League outings.
Deduno’s primary competition for the No. 5 job is coming from Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson. Worley held a 3.50 ERA over 277 2/3 innings for the Phillies before arriving in Minnesota via trade, but he was a disaster last year for the Twins, posting a 7.21 mark in 10 starts. He’s also been roughed up in his two starts this spring (10.38 ERA). Diamond is in a similar situation as Worley in that he pitched well prior to 2013 before collapsing (5.43 ERA over 24 starts). He’s given up six runs in four frames this spring, though only two of them have been earned.
Gibson hasn’t allowed an earned run in his two Grapefruit League appearances and is the most intriguing option of the bunch as a former top prospect. However, he posted an ugly 6.53 ERA over 10 starts for Minnesota last year and the odds seem good that the Twins will give him a little more seasoning at Triple-A.