Dee Gordon might be tired of talking about moving to center field with the Seattle Mariners, but it’s a topic he won’t be able to avoid for a few days following a scary play that took place Friday in Cleveland.
Gordon was removed from Seattle’s 6-5 loss to Cleveland for precautionary reasons after crashing shoulder first into the outfield wall while attempting to track down Yonder Alonso’s home run.
Though Gordon was fortunate to avoid any injury, let alone a serious injury, it’s a harsh reminder of how difficult and dangerous learning a new position can be. That’s even true of an exceptional athlete like Gordon, and it’s especially true when the player is learning on the job.
Despite Gordon’s speed and athleticism seemingly being a better fit and more valuable to Seattle in the outfield, it’s not familiar ground for him. He’s been an infielder throughout his baseball career and a second baseman primarily since coming to the majors.
Gordon found comfort playing second base that took years to develop, and ultimately led him to winning the Gold Glove. Now he’s in center field, learning how to track fly balls that are coming at different speeds, in different conditions, with different movement, each and every time. On top of that, he’s in ballparks he’s never played in before as an outfielder. Each game, especially on the road, presents a new challenge that requires reading the conditions and learning his surroundings.
Unfortunately, he was a little overwhelmed on Friday night. A more seasoned center fielder may have been able to read Alonso’s fly ball better. Certainly he would have been able to avoid charging into the wall. It kept carrying and carrying on Gordon, and he simply lost track of where he was.
Fortunately, Cleveland’s outfield wall is a little more forgiving than others. Gordon hit it hard and definitely shook himself up. Just not to the point where he did serious damage.
Gordon actually finished the inning defensively, but not before taking another rough route and coming up empty on a Michael Brantley fly ball.
Gordon will be back in center field again, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. It’s where Seattle wants him after acquiring him from the Miami Marlins this winter. Quite frankly, it’s the only place he fits with All-Star Robinson Cano manning second base every day. He will continue learning, and will no doubt get better. But more bumps in the road and bruises on his body should be expected.
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