LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Every now and then, Dee Gordon will remind you that he can turn on a pitch and leave the ballpark. The speedy second baseman did just that on Saturday afternoon, crushing a leadoff home run in the Marlins' 8-6 win over the Braves at Champion
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Every now and then, Dee Gordon will remind you that he can turn on a pitch and leave the ballpark. The speedy second baseman did just that on Saturday afternoon, crushing a leadoff home run in the Marlins' 8-6 win over the Braves at Champion Stadium.
R.A. Dickey elevated a knuckleball, and Gordon deposited it over the wall in right field. But the deeper the club gets into Spring Training, the more the Marlins expect to see the two-time All-Star impact games with his legs.
"The good sign about Dee is the last three days, he's swung the bat well," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's hitting the ball to left. He's keeping his bunting in play. He's had good at-bats."
For now, Gordon has more Grapefruit League home runs (one) than stolen bases (zero). Look for that to change before Opening Day.
"I'm just trying to have good at-bats," Gordon said. "We have a long way to go. We've got guys heading out to the [World Baseball Classic], so it's time to have good at-bats, a good approach and get ready for the season."
Gordon has just nine regular-season home runs, and 218 stolen bases.
In 2016, Gordon swiped 30 bases during a season in which he finished with a .268 batting average and .305 on-base percentage. He connected on just one home run. It was a memorable and emotional one -- his leadoff blast off Bartolo Colon, then with the Mets, on Sept. 26, the day after Jose Fernandez's death.
Overall, 2016 was a rough one after Gordon won the National League batting title with a .333 average in '15.
Thus far in Spring Training, he's simplifying things and is focused on being ready for Opening Day.
There have been encouraging signs.
On Friday, against the Nationals in Jupiter, Fla., Gordon blistered a double, and he's already attempted a bunt for a hit. Saturday's home run underscored the fact that if a pitcher makes a mistake, Gordon can do damage.
In the early stages of Spring Training, he's also been doing some catching up. Gordon missed the first three Grapefruit League games due to a left eye infection.
"It's only like my third or fourth game back," Gordon said. "Probably soon, it will be time to get back to game shape, and start getting [my legs] going."
The way Gordon was used on Saturday pretty much got him some at-bats without taxing his legs. He was the designated hitter, and went 1-for-3.
"Good at-bats," Mattingly said. "That's all we're looking for right now. He hits the ball in the seats every once in a while, it's great. But in general, we're looking for him to have good, quality at-bats."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.