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Dee's fit on defense key question for Mariners

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- One of the big questions facing the Mariners this offseason will be figuring out where Dee Gordon fits in defensively. He started the year in center field, but moved back to his natural second-base position when Robinson Cano was suspended in mid-May.

Gordon clearly is more comfortable at second, where he'd previously won two Gold Glove Awards, but Cano also has held that spot throughout his career and has struggled at times playing at first base since his return from suspension. That has led Gordon to split time again in center over the last six weeks.

SEATTLE -- One of the big questions facing the Mariners this offseason will be figuring out where Dee Gordon fits in defensively. He started the year in center field, but moved back to his natural second-base position when Robinson Cano was suspended in mid-May.

Gordon clearly is more comfortable at second, where he'd previously won two Gold Glove Awards, but Cano also has held that spot throughout his career and has struggled at times playing at first base since his return from suspension. That has led Gordon to split time again in center over the last six weeks.

Manager Scott Servais acknowledged Tuesday that having to move players around after Cano's return was "not ideal," though he appreciates everyone handling it "the best they could."

Going forward, however, those situations will need to be clarified.

"He's certainly more comfortable at second base," Servais said. "We all see that. He's got more instincts, he's got the range. The center-field thing, early on he struggled. Since he's gone back to center, we've positioned him deeper, which has helped let him trust his speed and come in on balls and not worry about the ball right over his head, which is the toughest play.

"I'm happy with the job he's done in center field, but I do think ultimately we need to make a decision on where he's going to play and let him play."

Video: SD@SEA: Gordon slides to make smooth play

Gordon hasn't made a big deal of playing on a broken toe much of the year, but that clearly has affected his speed and ability to impact games in the second half.

When Gordon was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 22 with a fractured right big toe, his line was .304/.330/.386 with 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts and a batting average on balls in play of .348 in 45 games.

Video: Must C Clutch: Dee's HR in 12th fuels Mariners' win

Since his return, he's hit .253/.271/.330 with 14 stolen bases in 24 attempts and a BABIP of .286 in 94 games.

While Gordon entered Tuesday ranked fifth in the American League and eighth in the Majors with 30 stolen bases, that's a far cry from the 61 he averaged his previous three full seasons in 2014, '15 and '17, when he led the Majors each year, or the early pace he was setting this season prior to his injury.

As his batting average has dropped to .270 with a .291 on-base percentage -- well below his previous career averages of .293 and .329 -- the 30-year-old was dropped out of the leadoff role to No. 9 in the order.

"Dee didn't have a typical Dee Gordon year, there's no question about that," Servais said. "We've asked a lot of Dee Gordon this year, probably more than any other player in that clubhouse, moving positions and doing the things he did.

"Dee has a very infectious energy about him and that's what was carrying our team for a long time. We asked a lot of him this year and I certainly expect to see a healthy and more of a Dee Gordon-like year next year."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Dee Gordon