6/1/2014 8:29 P.M. ET
Gordon's work ethic earns big praise from Lopes
By Lyle Spencer and Michael Lananna / MLB.com
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."
In 19th season, Wright continues to deliver
LOS ANGELES -- When he came off the mound on Saturday, having worked the final three innings of the Dodgers' 12-2 victory over the Pirates, Jamey Wright "had no idea" he'd just recorded his second career Major League save in his 682nd appearance.
"When I got up here in the clubhouse, they told me," Wright said Sunday. "I actually didn't want to go out and pitch the final inning, because I wanted to pitch today. I don't like being down; I want to be available every day. I take pride in that. I'm that all-purpose club in the golf bag."
This is Wright's 19th big league season, and at 6-foot-6, he's ideally suited for the long-relief role in the Dodgers' bullpen. He is 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 24 appearances, holding hitters to a .243 batting average.
The odyssey began in 1996 when he was a starter for the Rockies. A free agent 18 times, the right-hander from Oklahoma City has worn 10 Major League uniforms, taking two tours with the Rockies, Royals and now the Dodgers, and is 94-128 with a 4.79 ERA. His trip to the postseason last October with the Rays was his first.
"I've had too many dreams of pitching in a World Series for it not to happen," Wright, 39, said. "I still believe it's going to happen. If that opportunity presents itself, I'm going to succeed, because I will be prepared.
"I keep myself in great shape, and I've been very blessed to be able to stay healthy. If you peeked in my shoulder you'd see some caution tape, but I keep the muscles around my shoulder strong. There's a purpose to every ball I throw, to everything I do."
Manager Don Mattingly, knowing how committed Wright is, didn't hesitate to extend him to three innings to spare the bullpen.
"I'll throw three innings, two, a third, finish up, whatever it is he needs," Wright said. "He knows I'll throw six innings if he asks me to. The last eight games I only threw once; our starters have been going deep. I love to be out there, on the mound. I'll keep doing it as long as my wife lets me."
Butera stepping up after Ellis' unlucky misstep
LOS ANGELES -- Drew Butera went from celebrating Josh Beckett's no-hitter to hearing that his teammate and fellow catcher A.J. Ellis sprained his ankle mid-celebration -- after stepping on Butera's discarded mask.
The injury, suffered May 25, put Ellis on the 15-day disabled list and left Butera as the Dodgers' starting catcher. While the circumstances are less than ideal, Butera has capitalized on the additional playing time.
"You never want to see a teammate or a friend get hurt, especially like that," Butera said. "You just try to make the most of it, and play my game and see what happens from there."
Butera's past week has been a whirlwind of events, from Beckett's no-hitter to Hyun-Jin Ryu's near perfect game the next day to facing Francisco Liriano -- a pitcher for whom he caught a no-hitter in 2011 with the Minnesota Twins.
Butera showed off his arm in Friday's bout with the Pirates, throwing out two base stealers and picking off Starling Marte after he wandered too far off second base. And on Saturday, Butera flexed some offensive muscle as well, narrowly missing a home run with a two-run triple to left-center field.
Manager Don Mattingly once again penciled Butera into the starting lineup in Sunday's series finale with the Pirates, batting him eighth in front of pitcher Zack Greinke.
Mattingly said Ellis is progressing well from his ankle injury.
Puig, Hanley, Adrian settling into 3-4-5 spots
LOS ANGELES -- An outfield logjam, various injuries and some old-fashioned tinkering have led to a bevy of Dodgers starting lineups this season.
But of late, manager Don Mattingly has found stability at the top in speedy second baseman Dee Gordon, and the middle of the order has solidified as well.
Mattingly said Sunday he's planning on sticking with Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez in the three-, four- and five-holes, respectively.
"I think we like Yasiel, Hanley and Adrian there together," Mattingly said. "Those three guys being able to drive in runs protects the top of the order."
Mattingly said he prefers keeping right-handed hitters Puig and Ramirez together, rather than splitting them with the left-handed-hitting Gonzalez. Doing so would make three out of the Dodgers' first four hitters left-handed, which could benefit the opposing manager's bullpen matchups.
"Yasiel and Hanley both handle right-handers," Mattingly said. "So it puts a lot of pressure on how you use your left-handers."
That lineup configuration certainly worked Saturday, as the Dodgers exploded for 14 hits in a 12-2 win against the Pirates.
• Manager Don Mattingly said left fielder Carl Crawford, on the disabled list since Tuesday with a sprained ankle, is "doing really well -- and I say that cautiously. Ankles can get to a certain point and stay there."
• Starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, recovering from Tommy John surgery, has a second simulated game scheduled for Tuesday. If that goes well, he could be cleared for a rehab start.
• Mattingly downplayed what he called "a discussion" with Andre Ethier during the eighth inning of Saturday's 12-2 rout of the Pirates. "He can voice his opinion, I can voice mine," Mattingly said. "With family, that's what you do at home. You can argue, but at the end of the day, you love your kids, and you're family. He wanted to stay in the game. Today he can apologize, I can apologize."
• Dee Gordon is "really excited" about Thursday's First-Year Player Draft. It's an off-day for the Dodgers, who open a road trip in Colorado on Friday. Dee's brother, Nick, is expected to be among the top seven selections.
A left-handed-hitting shortstop, the younger Gordon is the No. 5-rated Draft prospect by MLB.com. "Our family can't wait to see where he goes," said Dee, a fourth-round pick by the Dodgers out of high school in 2008. Tom Gordon, former MLB pitching star, is the father of Dee and Nick.
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.