SEATTLE -- Dee Gordon has excelled in baseball by being fast. Extremely fast.But now the new Mariners center fielder knows his challenge is to be a quick learner as well, as he transitions to a defensive position he's never played in professional ball. And he's wasting no time getting to
SEATTLE -- Dee Gordon has excelled in baseball by being fast. Extremely fast.
But now the new Mariners center fielder knows his challenge is to be a quick learner as well, as he transitions to a defensive position he's never played in professional ball. And he's wasting no time getting to work.
Just two weeks since being acquired by Seattle, the former Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman with the Marlins has already spent time doing outfield drills with Mariners coach Chris Prieto at a field near his home in Windermere, Fla.
And, yeah, he's spent time taking advice from neighbor Ken Griffey Jr. as well.
Though Spring Training is still seven weeks away, Gordon is feeling more comfortable about the position change that awaits him. He and Prieto worked for several days on taking proper angles and routes, footwork, making catches at the wall, crow-hop throws and such.
"Just stuff that outfielders do daily," Gordon said. "Simple stuff I didn't know. Just things to work on, going into Spring Training, so it didn't have to be a crash course. I wanted him to come here in December and he made it happen. And he's going to come back down next month, too."
Gordon is an excellent athlete, but he's played shortstop and second base his entire career. He admits his first reaction to hearing the Mariners wanted him to play the outfield was one of disbelief, but his mindset has already shifted into positive gear.
"I'm ready to go," he said. "I'm ready to help these boys any way possible. That's it. I just want to do my part to help us win. I definitely could be [resistant], but that's not the guy I am."
Mariners fans will soon learn more about the guy that Gordon really is, but if they're searching for clues, look no further than Gordon's work the past week in his hometown of Avon Park, Fla.
Gordon hosted his fourth annual Boys & Girls Club basketball tournament on Saturday, an event that he and some friends fund that provides free food, drinks, live music and games for kids and attracted several thousand people to the day-long gathering.
"I came up in the local rec and Boys & Girls Club," said Gordon. "It's very important to show the kids that I'm accessible and care about them and their needs and happiness."
Gordon was the Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the Marlins this past year, and he has been involved with community efforts throughout his career, including his "Flash of Hope" program to help kids who've lost a parent to domestic violence.
Gordon's own mom was shot and killed by a boyfriend when he was 6. He then grew up with his dad, former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon, and thus was around the game most of his life.
Which is one of the reasons he didn't blink when Griffey called and said he wanted to get together with him for some private coaching.
"He came out last Friday and we got some work in," Gordon said. "It's cool. It's not every day you can have a Hall of Famer help you out, though I've worked out with Barry Larkin, too, so I've been fortunate.
"He didn't put a glove on, just showed me some stuff, just getting me right. He played against my dad forever. I'm on the long list of billions and billions of fans of his."
Soon Gordon will be patrolling the same outfield as Griffey did with the Mariners. He understands the challenge. It's a lot to learn in a short time. So he's getting after it the only way he knows, which means he's moving fast.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.