LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers coach Davey Lopes, a leadoff catalyst and second baseman with few peers in his day, had a heart-to-heart this spring with Dee Gordon, whose desire was to handle those roles for the 2014 Dodgers after several up-and-down seasons as a shortstop.
"He knew there was an opening [at second]," Lopes said."I told him this is your opportunity. Close the door. Here it is. I gave it to him straight. 'You want that job? Take it. Make them like you.'
"I was really surprised how quickly he picked it up [at second]. He constantly works at his craft. Turning the double play from the blind side at second, your back to the runner, is completely different from at shortstop. He constantly goes out there and does his work. He's a gym rat -- and he has the instincts. He always wanted to be a shortstop, but he's done a terrific job at second. I can't say enough good things about Dee."
Gordon's astonishing ability to steal bases is a product of blinding speed and the same work ethic he has applied to his glove work at second base.
Gordon, through Saturday, leads the Majors with 34 steals, having been caught only three times for a success rate of 91.9. Rickey Henderson was successful on 75.6 percent of his 172 attempts when he set the record with 130 steals in 1982.
"Dee's always had the speed, but he's reading pitchers a lot better now," Lopes said. "He has tremendous confidence. He can steal on a guy with a quick move to the plate, and it better be a good throw from the catcher. We constantly work on when to go and when not to go.
"There's no telling what numbers he can put up. As long as he stays healthy and gets on base, anything is possible."
No Major League player has stolen 100 bases since Vince Coleman's 109 in 1987.
"I'd never say never, as far as Dee is concerned," Lopes said. "That's a big number, but he's a special talent."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.