In his seminal poem, The Road Not Taken, literary icon Robert Frost wrote of a road "less traveled by.” In doing so, he encouraged his readers to stray off the beaten path and blaze their own trail. It’s a fine sentiment, but what Frost failed to do was warn his audience of how exhausting that endeavor could be.
Enter Dee Gordon, proud owner of one of the most chaotic careers you’ve ever seen. The unpredictable has been his co-pilot since Day 1, riding shotgun while Gordon has spent the better part of a decade traversing MLB’s vast terrain. Within that time frame Gordon has, among other pursuits, been traded twice, attained Gold Glove status, switched positions three times (he went from shortstop to second base, to center field, back to second base), earned a Silver Slugger, served an 80-game PED suspension (The scrawny 170-pound toothpick with 18 career homers got caught juicing? Seriously?), won a batting title and led the league in steals three times. He’s also a two-time All-Star and, if you’re not familiar with his lineage, the son of former MLB closer (and subject of a Stephen King novel) Tom Gordon.
This is a man who has experienced more highs and lows than the New York Stock Exchange, the living embodiment of the Superman coaster at Six Flags. Gordon has ventured so far down the road less traveled by, it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps. But in a career full of plot twists, 2019 had been a shockingly smooth ride for the Mariners second baseman … until J.A. Happ intervened Thursday night.
Stepping between the lines at his pop’s old stomping grounds in the Bronx (that can be said of almost anywhere—Flash Gordon suited up for eight teams throughout his big-league tenure), the 31-year-old dug in against the veteran Happ, a Mariner himself at one point in his convoluted career. Wanting to establish the inner half of the plate, the Yankees left-hander came up and in on the fleet-footed leadoff man, flinging a 90-mph dart that caught Gordon on the right wrist. That sent the nine-year vet into a world of pain as Gordon made a beeline to the clubhouse, where he was administered X-rays that were ultimately deemed “inconclusive.” Gordon will undergo further testing upon his arrival in Boston Friday but it sounds like the Mariners are bracing for the worst. J.P. Crawford, a prized prospect during his Phillies heyday, was scratched Thursday at Triple-A Tacoma, a sign that he could be headed east along with other reinforcements.
Dylan Moore was called into duty as Gordon’s replacement Thursday night, a day after suffering an almost identical injury. Nursing a sore wrist of his own, Moore drew a walk in his lone plate appearance (he never took the bat off his shoulder) before giving way to pinch-hitter Jay Bruce in the eighth inning. With Moore and Gordon down for the count, Edwin Encarnacion tried his hand at second base for the first time in his 15-year career. It was amusing to see Encarnacion, an occasional first baseman who spends most of his days at DH, give second base the ‘ol college try. But after seeing the 36-year-old sacrifice his body lunging (unsuccessfully) for a ball up the middle, the Mariners might view it a bit differently. Playing out of position is always an injury risk, especially for a player on the back nine of his career like Encarnacion. Translation: the undermanned M’s need a healthy second baseman pronto.
Losing Gordon for any quantity of time would be devastating to fantasy owners relying on his speed (tied for second in MLB with 10 steals) and batting average (.304 over 138 at-bats) and an even bigger blow to the spiraling Mariners, who have dropped nine of 11 including Thursday’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of New York. The slumping M’s have surely seen better days, but they shouldn’t expect much sympathy from the Yankees, who have managed to stay relevant amidst a biblical wave of injuries.
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New York’s injured list is more jam-packed than the GW Bridge during rush hour. But the rash of untimely ailments, ranging from Aaron Judge’s strained oblique to Luis Severino’s balky shoulder, hasn’t prevented the Yankees from staying competitive in the AL East. With the roster in shambles, New York has trotted out a parade of gritty overachievers led by former Blue Jays castoff Gio Urshela, who broke out his hero’s cape once again with a clutch, bases-loaded single in Thursday night’s victory. DJ LeMahieu, Thairo Estrada, Domingo German, Clint Frazier and Cameron Maybin have all made the most of their early-season opportunities, but no star has shined brighter than Urshela, a Colombia native who wasn’t even on the Yankees’ 40-man roster until a month ago. Who knows when the well will dry up for Urshela (.354 AVG), but right now, his piping-hot bat can’t be tamed. There’s no guarantee of regular at-bats, especially with Miguel Andujar back to man the hot corner after a month-long absence, but if Urshela keeps raking, Aaron Boone will find a way to keep him in the starting nine most days.
The NBA remains the pettiest of our major sports leagues—a month of postseason shenanigans has only made that distinction clearer—but don’t sleep on the grudge factory known as Major League Baseball. While the doctors are checking out Gordon’s wrist on Friday, they may also want to look at that giant chip on his shoulder.
“It was the second time he threw up by my head,” Gordon vented after the game. “You can’t throw that pitch. I got a family.” Intentional or not, don’t be surprised if the Mariners repay the favor when the Yankees visit T-Mobile Park in late August. This aggression will not stand, man!
AL Quick Hits: Albert Pujols became only the third member of MLB’s 2,000 RBI club, joining the esteemed fraternity by homering in Thursday’s 13-0 rout of Detroit. Unfortunately, the ball won’t be on display in the slugger’s trophy case or the Hall of Fame—despite offers of memorabilia, law student Ely Hydes couldn’t be persuaded to part with the souvenir. … George Springer delivered another “Springer Dinger” on Thursday, slugging his AL-leading 13th homer in a victory over Texas. The UConn alum has gone berserk during his nine-game hitting streak, batting .412 (14-for-34) with five homers and 11 RBI over that span. … Ronald Guzman returned from a month-long absence Thursday versus Houston. The Rangers first baseman had been out with a strained hamstring. … Rangers closer Shawn Kelley will require a stint on the injured list while he deals with an infection. With Kelley on the shelf, Chris Martin will step in as the new ninth-inning gatekeeper in Texas with Jose Leclerc working in a setup capacity. … Khris Davis sat out Thursday’s game after aggravating his bruised hip Wednesday versus Cincinnati, though A’s manager Bob Melvin expects to have him back for Friday’s series opener against Cleveland. Davis hasn’t left the yard since April 12 after beginning the year with 10 homers in his first 17 games. … Aaron Hicks has moved his rehab to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and should be activated for Monday’s game against Baltimore. The Yankees outfielder got a late start after experiencing lower back pain early on in spring training. … In other Yankees injury news, the Bombers have transferred setup man Dellin Betances to the 60-day injured list. He’s still working back from a shoulder impingement he suffered in mid-March. Meanwhile Aaron Judge, who has been on the injured list since mid-April with a strained oblique, has yet to resume baseball activities. The Yankees still haven’t established a timeline for his return.
NL Quick Hits: Snow flurries were falling at Coors Field, so Nolan Arenado decided to warm things up with his bat, pummeling his 10th homer as part of a three-hit afternoon Thursday in the Rockies’ 12-11 win over San Francisco. Tyler Austin paced the visiting Giants with two homers and a career-high six RBI in a losing effort. … Buster Posey will endure a stint on the injured list after suffering a concussion earlier this week. Posey’s teammate, left-hander Drew Pomeranz, will join him on the I.L. with a strained lat. Both players are expected back when first eligible. … Despite his season-long struggles, the Mets won’t cut Todd Frazier to make room for Jed Lowrie (knee) when he comes off the injured list. Speaking of Lowrie, the second baseman had been slated to return Friday but instead he’ll remain at Triple-A Syracuse for a few more days. The 35-year-old has struggled on his rehab assignment, managing just two hits over 23 at-bats (.087 AVG) between Syracuse and High-A St. Lucie. … The Mets sent Steven Matz to the injured list Thursday with radial nerve discomfort in his left arm. The 27-year-old received cortisone and lidocaine shots for his injury and hopes to rejoin the rotation next Thursday versus Washington. … Carlos Martinez is targeting a return in 10-14 days after missing the first month and change with a shoulder injury. The Cardinals right-hander hit 98 mph on the radar gun Wednesday in a minor league rehab outing and is slated to appear again Friday for Triple-A Memphis. Martinez will work in the Cards’ pen upon his return. … Jesse Winker was sidelined Thursday with left quad tightness. The Reds outfielder has belted nine homers in the early going, though his batting average still sits at an underwhelming .237 through 114 at-bats.