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Gordon craves opportunities for stolen bases

Speedy outfielder caught for first time in '18 against Rangers
Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- With nine stolen bases through his first 18 games, Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon again found himself leading the Majors entering Saturday's action, and he acknowledges he's a practitioner of an increasingly lost art.

Gordon is on pace for 81 steals, but no one has stolen more than 80 bases in 30 years, when Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman did it in 1988. Gordon's career high is 64 in 2014. He said on Saturday that the modern emphasis on power and launch angles has rendered players of his skill set almost extinct.

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ARLINGTON -- With nine stolen bases through his first 18 games, Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon again found himself leading the Majors entering Saturday's action, and he acknowledges he's a practitioner of an increasingly lost art.

Gordon is on pace for 81 steals, but no one has stolen more than 80 bases in 30 years, when Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman did it in 1988. Gordon's career high is 64 in 2014. He said on Saturday that the modern emphasis on power and launch angles has rendered players of his skill set almost extinct.

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"That's where the game is now, it's waiting on the three-run homer ... there's no place for a guy like me, honestly," Gordon said.

Gordon took advantage of the Rangers' shallow infield positioning in the ninth inning in Friday night's 6-2 win, collecting his ninth bag without a throw, and he wound up scoring as the Mariners broke open a 2-2 game.

Gordon, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Marlins, was caught stealing for the first time this year in Saturday's 9-7 win after a leadoff single against Rangers starter Bartolo Colon. Gordon is often green-lighted to steal if he sees the opportunity. He said that decision-making ability came from "a lot of running for no reason and getting out" early in his career, and the subsequent chewings-out from his managers and coaches.

"If you get yelled at enough, you're like, 'OK, you know what? Maybe this isn't the right situation,'" Gordon said. "You've got to pick your spots because I'm not psyching anybody out out there. When I get to first base, they know I have a chance of going no matter what."

Video: SEA@KC: Gordon swipes two bags in one inning

Mariners manager Scott Servais said he trusts Gordon to run at the right times.

"He has tremendous feel for when to steal, when not to steal, when he's got a good jump, who he can steal on -- all those, the high IQ I always talk about him having on the field -- it certainly shows up in running the bases," Servais said. "He is fast, but there's more than just being fast to steal bases. He's a good slider. All those things play in there. The sky's the limit. I'd love to see him steal 80 bases. If he does that, he's on base a lot."

But if that part of the game continues to decline, Gordon said, he'd just as soon be retired by then.

"Hopefully, if the stolen base is taken out of baseball, fully, hopefully I'm home and don't have to worry about it," Gordon said.

Injury updates
• Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw 24 pitches in a simulated game at Triple-A Tacoma. It's the first time he has faced hitters since undergoing shoulder surgery in September 2017.

"It went very well," Servais said. "Nothing to concern ourselves coming out of it. He'll do it again before he starts going out and pitching in regular games. It was positive."

• First baseman Ryon Healy (sprained right ankle) went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in his first rehab assignment on Friday night for Double-A Arkansas. Healy is expected to join the Mariners at some point during the current road trip.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Arlington.

Seattle Mariners, Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Hisashi Iwakuma