Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Mariners in awe of Gordon's transition to CF

Speedster enjoying strong spring in outfield and at plate
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dee Gordon insists he's still learning the ins and outs of playing center field, but the two-time All-Star second baseman could fool those who've watched him gracefully adapt to the position already this spring.

"It feels like he's been playing out there his whole career," Mariners left fielder Ben Gamel said. "It's been a pretty fluent transition for him. I think he's going to be one of the best center fielders in baseball."

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dee Gordon insists he's still learning the ins and outs of playing center field, but the two-time All-Star second baseman could fool those who've watched him gracefully adapt to the position already this spring.

"It feels like he's been playing out there his whole career," Mariners left fielder Ben Gamel said. "It's been a pretty fluent transition for him. I think he's going to be one of the best center fielders in baseball."

Gordon has handled everything thrown -- or hit at him -- so far this spring. He hasn't been challenged to make a diving catch or tough throw in a Cactus League game yet, but he has displayed his elite speed in covering ground to haul in drives in the gaps. And he's looked smooth making sliding grabs and plays at the wall during workouts and batting practice sessions, with plenty of arm strength to play the position, according to outfield coach Chris Prieto.

• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Gear

After working hard over the offseason in Miami to adapt to the position change as quickly as possible, Gordon arrived in camp well along the learning curve. Braden Bishop, regarded as an excellent defensive center fielder and the Mariners' No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, marvels at the easy transition.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"Anytime you get an athlete of that caliber, to be able to watch his first step, I mean, it's really just unmatched," Bishop said. "I would never have guessed that he never played outfield before. That's just the athlete he is. I've watched him a lot. It's just different with him. It's easy."

The smoothness goes beyond Gordon's athleticism and speed. As a longtime middle infielder, Gordon instinctively knows where to position himself and little things the Mariners expected would take time to absorb.

"It's been great," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I thought it would be good, and it pretty much has been. I talk a lot about baseball IQ and maybe the average fan doesn't understand it. But some guys have it. They understand the game.

"Yeah, it's catching the fly balls, but it's also throwing to the right base, it's anticipating stuff. Being a second baseman and before that a shortstop, he's into the game and you can see it in center field. He's moving with every pitch. He's reading swings. It's the stuff that sometimes takes guys years to get, he's doing it within weeks because his baseball IQ is very high."

As for the bat? Gordon has been everything expected there as well. The 29-year-old has led the Majors in stolen bases three of the last four years and his speed is a weapon. Entering Sunday's Cactus League action, Gordon is 6-for-14 with a home run, triple and double in six games. He lit up the Peoria Stadium crowd on Saturday with two hits -- an infield single on a slow roller and then a triple to right field -- in his three at-bats.

"He can fly," Servais said. "It's fun to watch him."

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

Seattle Mariners, Dee Gordon