ANAHEIM -- The Dodgers handed Dee Gordon the starting shortstop job last summer when they dealt Rafael Furcal at the Trade Deadline, and now they acknowledge they might have jumped the gun.
"We all kind of got fooled by his second half last year," manager Don Mattingly said Saturday of Gordon's second callup last year, when he hit .345 en route to a .304 overall average in 56 games.
"We kind of assumed he would take off again and his Spring Training was really good. We talk about that being a factor. It's been more of a battle than I thought. I didn't think he'd be .330 with 50 bags, but I thought he'd be more consistent than he's been."
As a result, the Dodgers are trying to play catch-up in Gordon's seasoning. He entered Saturday hitting .220 (.167 against lefties) and was in an 0-for-17 slump before hitting a single to lead off the game vs. the Angels. Gordon had another session with bunting instructor Maury Wills on Saturday and was watching video of his at-bats with Mattingly.
"If the premise is that we rushed him, we've got to be patient," Mattingly said. "A lot of times in the past guys come up and you say they should be ready to play. You're always kind of teaching in a way, but not to give him so much that you overload him. We try to be cognizant of that."
Mattingly said a player with Gordon's limited experience (397 Minor League games) probably wouldn't have been in the Major Leagues during Mattingly's day (Mattingly played in 500 Minor League games). But when plans were made for the 2012 roster, the Dodgers were bankrupt and the payroll was being slashed.
"The reason we're at with Dee is last year we traded Fukey and pretty much made the commitment," Mattingly said. "We were cutting back payroll at that point and we wanted to see who could play and who can't. So we're trying to build something here and suddenly we're in first place and it's like, what are we doing here?
"I go back to the winter -- we're cutting payroll, didn't have the money and we did what we had to do. The decisions haven't been bad. We let Rod Barajas go and A.J. Ellis has played well. I think Dee, in the end, is going to be a great player. The thing I love is that he wants to be great. Just don't let him get down on himself and he's going to be great."