PEORIA, Ariz. -- After not getting any defensive opportunities in his three-inning debut Friday, newly converted Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon was tested early and often at his new position in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the White Sox.And Gordon, the two-time National League Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman, passed his
PEORIA, Ariz. -- After not getting any defensive opportunities in his three-inning debut Friday, newly converted Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon was tested early and often at his new position in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the White Sox.
And Gordon, the two-time National League Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman, passed his initial challenge with flying colors, flawlessly handling four fly balls -- one in each frame of his four-inning stint -- and running down two drives at the warning track.
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Gordon has been working hard at the transition from infielder in workouts since being acquired from the Marlins in early December, but acknowledged it was different playing the position in front of a crowd of 5,107 with a bright sun and breeze adding to the challenge.
"It was different," he said, "because if I drop it, everybody knows I dropped it."
Gordon's toughest play was a deep shot to the right-center gap in the third by Tyler Saladino that he hauled in at the wall, covering significant ground with ease.
Clearly speed will not be an issue with Gordon, who has led the Major Leagues in stolen bases three of the past four years. But the 29-year-old had never played outfield at the professional level until this spring and the experiment is still just two games -- seven innings total -- old.
"I'm very happy to get it out of the way," Gordon said. "It was really hostile out there, probably the toughest day to be out there. It was good just to get out and catch some fly balls.
"Now ya'll can let me just be an outfielder and I don't have to answer questions about catching fly balls," he added, with a smile.
Reminded that he hadn't made a tough throw yet, Gordon laughed.
"Oh yeah, I forget about that part," he said. "Well, I'll see ya'll soon."
Gordon flashed his quickness at the plate as well, leading off the game with a swinging bunt on a ball that landed between the mound and home and didn't even draw a throw from White Sox pitches Hector Santiago.
Gordon saw starting pitcher Mike Leake at his locker postgame and gave the veteran right-hander a hug, thanking him for getting him his first fly ball, an easy fly to shallow center in the first and he also ran down a shot in front of the track in dead center by Welington Castillo leading off the second.
"I look forward to him being in center, that's for sure," Leake said. "He's got speed, he's got all the tools a center fielder needs, really. And when you have a guy like that on your team, it's a lethal one-holer. You've got a guy that can beat out choppers that barely get past the cut of the grass. He can do things that most people can't do."
Leake impressive in his debut
The Mariners are counting on Leake to be a solid No. 3 starter, and he got off to a strong spring start with two scoreless innings, with one hit allowed and no walks or strikeouts.
The 30-year-old went 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts after being acquired from the Cardinals last August and said he's encouraged by his early impression in camp.
"It's a good group of guys that make it comfortable to be here and hopefully that comfort level can translate to a tenacious attitude out there," Leake said.
• Outfielder Braden Bishop, the Mariners' No. 5-ranked prospect, got Seattle on the board with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and veteran utility man Andrew Romine followed with a two-run single to provide the early offense in Saturday's game.
• Evan White, last year's first-round Draft pick, isn't in Major League camp. But with Ryon Healy and Daniel Vogelbach sidelined by injuries, the 21-year-old was called over from the Minor League mini-camp to fill in as a backup Saturday and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. White, Seattle's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, flashed his outstanding glove with a nice stretch and pick of a low throw from third baseman Zach Shank in the sixth inning.
• Reliever Nick Rumbelow was removed from the game after getting two outs in the ninth due to a cut on his thumb. The right-hander, acquired by trade from the Yankees, gave up three hits and a run before trainer Rob Nodine and Servais came to the mound and took him out.
Marco Gonzales makes his Cactus League debut in Sunday's 12:10 p.m. PT game against the Dodgers at Peoria Stadium. Second baseman Robinson Cano and designated hitter Nelson Cruz are also expected to see their first action of the spring, while Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Rob Whalen and Chasen Bradford are among the pitchers expected to come out of the bullpen. The game will be broadcast live on MLB.TV.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.