Can Dee Gordon's lean frame take an MLB pounding?
Is this how it's going to be throughout the career of Dee Gordon?
Always holding your breath? Wondering if he'll be able to get up the next time? Afraid he's always going to be subcompact versus 18-wheeler?
Gordon is thin as an exclamation point. He's listed at 150 pounds, which is apparently his weight just before falling off the boat to scuba.
He's 23 years old, and the Dodgers' hoped-for future for years to come at shortstop. And right now he'd better be, because after trading Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers have no one else.
Which requires that Gordon not only develops, but stays healthy -- that his slender frame withstands the nightly rigors of a 162-game season.
Gordon injured his right shoulder Saturday diving to tag Diamondbacks second baseman Kelly Johnson in a rundown. The pain was severe enough that it was momentarily feared he had dislocated or separated the shoulder. Doctors reported neither had happened (though the shoulder was not X-rayed, as originally reported) and he sat out Sunday's game. He didn't start Monday, but did come in as late-inning replacement.
"We thought he was OK,"’ said Manager Don Mattingly. "The way he bounced back, we didn't have reason to think anything else. He was taking BP and doing everything."’
And he was looking fine Tuesday. He singled off Cliff Lee in the first, fielded his position well and then ... fouled off a pitch with a routine-looking swing in the eighth and came away wincing.
He was met by trainer Stan Conte and Mattingly.
"He was hurting,"’ Mattingly said. "I could tell right away he wasn't going to go back out there."
Gordon left the game. Mattingly said he will likely have an MRI Wednesday.
"I felt like I was taking the same swings all night," Gordon said. "I was fouling some balls off. I just don't know what happened there."
The good news, apparently, is that Gordon said the pain was not nearly as significant as that from Saturday's injury in Arizona.
"It was way worse last time, I can say you that for sure," Gordon said. "This was more of a quick, stinging-like action. Then it was like, 'Oh, my gosh, I think something’s wrong.' It just didn’t feel right."
Gordon said the shoulder had felt slightly stiff early Tuesday, but at no time had it been painful.
Still, if you're a 5-foot-11 toothpick, there is naturally going to be concern that you're more injury-prone than your average bear. Not that Mattingly buys it.
"Not really," he said. "It was kind of a freak injury going for the tag. He's played pretty much throughout the last few years.
"At this point, I don't think there's any precedent that's been set. Just because he has that lean body, I don't think he’s going to be hurt all the time.’’
In his last three minor-league seasons, Gordon has played nearly every game, so there's reason for optimism. Also, maybe, to hold your breath.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dee Gordon #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images