Dee Gordon wouldn’t take the bait when asked how many bases he expects to steal this year.
“I don’t know,” said the Dodgers’ leadoff man, noting that he hasn’t even set a goal in that department.
Neither has Davey Lopes, the Dodgers’ first-base coach and baserunning guru.
“He knows what his role is,” Lopes said of Gordon. “His role is to get on base and cause some problems. If he’s real good at that, he could steal a lot. I’m not going to put a number on it.”
So we’re left to our imaginations with Gordon, who is 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts this spring and boasts an outstanding .450 on-base average. Those percentages probably won’t continue into the regular season — all the more reason not to set unrealistic expectations for a 23-year-old entering what is expected to be his first full major league season.
Gordon might not be in to predictions, but at least he’s setting the bar high.
“I’m supposed to have a good percentage,” he said Tuesday. “Spring training or not spring training, guys are still trying to throw you out. It’s not like (spring training batting averages) where you can take that with a grain of salt. Base stealing, you have a legit chance of being out every time you run.”
Gordon’s immediate goal is to steal third, something he hasn’t done in Cactus League play but wants to before the regular season begins. “It’s about seeing what you can and can’t do,” he said.
And therein lies the biggest — if not only — concern for the Dodgers with Gordon on the basepaths. In just 56 games last season, he stole 24 bases but was caught seven times; his 31 attempts in 56 games represents a very high percentage (55.3). By comparison, when Lopes stole 77 bases for the Dodgers in 1975, he did so on 89 attempts in 155 games, a 57.4 percentage.
“He has all the intangible tools: He’s fearless, aggressive, he wants to run,” Lopes said. “The thing I would probably have to do more than anything is maybe pull him back a little bit, because there will be certain situations where we don’t want him to run.”
Based on their early reaction to Gordon’s forays on the basepaths, the majority of fans may disagree.