Servais confident Dee can handle CF challenge

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Among the priorities for the Mariners this coming season, converting newly acquired Dee Gordon into a quality -- and willing -- center fielder ranks high on the list.

So consider it a positive sign that the two-time National League All-Star second baseman is already taking his first steps -- literally -- to begin learning the fine points of outfield play, Mariners manager Scott Servais said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.

"Everybody is saying we're taking a chance," Servais said. "But Dee Gordon is a proven Major League player. He's been an All-Star. We're asking him to move positions, and Dee is getting after it. He was already out yesterday taking fly balls, trying to get comfortable out there. He is going to try to turn himself into a Gold Glove center fielder."

Gordon, who makes his offseason home in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday will join a long-planned gathering of about 10 Mariners position players working out informally together in Miami at the urging of veterans and , and will continue advancing his outfield drills.

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And, yes, Gordon has plans to hook up with Florida neighbor Ken Griffey Jr. -- who understands a little about the art of playing center field -- for some personnel pointers as soon as possible.

"I know when he gets back [from Miami], he's working with Junior on the nuances of playing center field," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "Even if it's just his drop step or the way he reads the ball. [Monday] for the first time, he was out there shagging flies. It makes him probably the first center fielder to be out shagging flies since nobody is doing that in December."

Gordon will hook up with new Mariners outfield coach Chris Prieto next week in Florida to further accelerate his workout program prior to the start of Spring Training in February.

"Dee wants to be good at it," Dipoto said.

Everyone acknowledges that Gordon has the speed and athleticism to be a center fielder. But it's not a given that an established MLB infielder will eagerly assume a position change, and Gordon acknowledged he was initially "shocked" to learn that a Gold Glove second baseman was being asked to change positions.

But Gordon prides himself on being a team player and it helps that Cano, the man holding down second base in Seattle, played with his dad, pitcher Tom Gordon, with the Yankees in 2005.

"Robinson is a dream come true for me to play with," Gordon said. "I watched that guy play with my dad as a rookie and he's always been awesome to me. It's a dream. I'm not going to lie to you and just say, it was just, 'Oh yeah, let me move,' because I worked really, really hard to become one of the best second basemen in baseball.

"But if it's anybody I would move for, it would be Robbie."

Servais said the plan heading into spring is for Gordon to bat leadoff, with shortstop dropping to No. 2 after hitting .300 last season.

"Offensively, we just want him to do what he does," Servais said. "He's been very good at getting on base. He scored 110-115 runs last year. If he does that again, we'll be in very good shape."