SEATTLE -- As the countdown to Spring Training continues -- with the Mariners now just a week from pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria, Ariz. -- it's worth wondering who figures to create the biggest buzz over the next two months in various camps.For the Mariners, that answer seems pretty
SEATTLE -- As the countdown to Spring Training continues -- with the Mariners now just a week from pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria, Ariz. -- it's worth wondering who figures to create the biggest buzz over the next two months in various camps.
For the Mariners, that answer seems pretty clear. Dee Gordon will be one of the smallest guys in Seattle's camp, but the two-time National League All-Star figures to bring plenty of excitement and will be at the center of attention as he transitions from second base to center field with his new club.
Even manager Scott Servais lists himself among those excited to watch Gordon as the 29-year-old goes about his business this spring.
"We can look at the numbers and what he's done in the league as a second baseman," Servais said. "Now obviously the transition to center field, how's it going to play out? I feel very confident in his ability to go out there and run fly balls down. He's one of the fastest guys in baseball."
The Mariners had one of baseball's quickest outfielders last year in Jarrod Dyson, but Gordon is even faster. He's also far more accomplished with the bat.
Dyson struggled against left-handed pitchers and thus was limited largely to a platoon situation. But since establishing himself as an everyday player four years ago, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Gordon has put up a .304/.336/.382 line with 212 stolen bases and 341 runs in 530 games.
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"What he does offensively with that speed is pretty awesome and fun to watch," Servais said.
Gordon also brings an energy to the clubhouse that has already impressed first baseman Ryon Healy, the Mariners' other major offseason addition to the lineup.
"Talk about the most-friendly human being you could ever possibly imagine," Healy said. "He's so positive. Everything he says has a purpose and everything he does is with a purpose. But he does it with a smile on his face and with an excitement. He says he's the bringer of energy. He's the fountain.
"And that's something you need in a clubhouse and on a baseball field because you're playing 162 games and not every one is going to be pretty. But a guy like that who shows up every single day and is ready to play and leaves it all out there, it makes everyone else do the same."
Gordon is putting that energy to use at his home in Florida this winter, where he's been working daily on outfield drills. Mariners outfield coach Chris Prieto has flown down twice to oversee Gordon's transition, and Gordon said he's already feeling more comfortable with everything except the "crow hop" throw from the outfield as opposed to his familiar shuffle step in the infield.
Servais spent some time in Miami with Gordon as well and came away impressed.
"He's certainly got the athletic ability, the work ethic and he's got a feel for the game," Servais said. "He's been around the game his whole life. His dad pitched in the big leagues, he's got a younger brother who's a top prospect, and he just loves the game.
"He's going to stub his toe once in a while. He's going to misread a ball or whatever; it's going to take a little time to get up to speed. But he's got plenty of range and plenty of arm. Dee is going to be a great fit for us."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.