LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon wasn't in the Dodgers' starting lineup Wednesday, but manager Don Mattingly defended his rookie's status as the club's sometimes fill-in leadoff hitter.
In 58 plate appearances, Gordon has a .298 on-base percentage, with only two walks to 13 strikeouts and a .273 batting average. But Mattingly said he doesn't believe Gordon is reluctant to take pitches.
"He'll take pitches, but with a guy with that kind of speed, they're basically saying, 'Hit your way on,'" Mattingly said of Gordon, who has been the Dodgers' primary leadoff hitter and shortstop since Rafael Furcal went on the disabled list June 4 with a strained oblique muscle.
"It's not like they're not trying to throw strikes. There are nuances to hitting leadoff and you have to take pitches at certain times. He's been working on it for two or three years. You see reports about his plate discipline and on-base percentage. Obviously, he's not Rickey Henderson, hitting 25 to 30 home runs. He's got to find a way to get on base.
"I think he's held his own. I don't look at him and go, 'He's overmatched.' They'll get him sometimes, but he doesn't seem overmatched. His swing is too big at times. But you've got a guy who runs like that, everybody wants him to be a slap hitter. This guy's swing is solid. I think it's going to play as he gets experience and grows up. I think he'll sting the ball more than people think he looks like he can. He's not going to be a guy they can play totally cheap."