As you’ve no doubt heard, MLB has approved a new rule limiting home plate collisions between runners and catchers, and the reaction from Dodger backstops has been mixed at best. J.P. Hoornsta took a different approach, asking Dee Gordon for his opinion as a runner, and Gordon dropped an interesting tidbit, claiming that he was in favor of the rule partially because Arizona catcher Miguel Montero apparently caused Gordon to injure his ankle on a play at the plate last spring:
“The ball wasn’t even there and he blocked the plate,” said Gordon, who weighed about 160 pounds at the time. “It was kind of dirty, especially for spring training. He blocked it. I slid. We collided, then the ball came past.”
Rule 7.13 comes a year too late for Gordon, who suffered a significant ankle injury in the collision and didn’t feel 100 percent again until midseason.
“I was really messed up. I shouldn’t have played Opening Day in Triple-A,” he said. “Yeah, I like (the rule). It’ll help me.”
That’s fascinating, because while we heard about the ankle briefly last year, the idea that it bothered him for half the year is new. (The idea that noted enemy of the Dodgers Montero would do something termed “dirty” is not fascinating, new, or surprising at all.)
But first, through the magic of MLB.tv archives, the play in question. Gordon attempted to score from second on a Carl Crawford single, and…
…well, that was ugly. I’d love to totally throw Montero under the bus there, but it does seem pretty clear he was reaching for the ball, and it’s not like Gordon was taking a particularly graceful route to the plate. His memory of “colliding before the ball came past” appears to be mostly faulty. However, you can see that he is limping a bit on his way back to the dugout:
…and Vin Scully notes he looks “shaken up.” Anyway, the point here is less to argue about the play at the plate than it is to note that Gordon claims he was hurt for half the season, to the point that he shouldn’t have been playing on Opening Day. We’ve seen this happen so, so many times, that a player tries to play through pain and ends up hurting both himself and the team — to pick one of many, here’s Jerry Hairston — and it also makes projections difficult, since so many times we never know this information.
For what it’s worth, Gordon hit .314/.397/.431 in 117 Triple-A plate appearances before being recalled by the Dodgers on May 4, where he then hit .175/.278/.254 in 73 plate appearances before being sent back. It sure seems like that’s less about any ankle issues and more about not being good enough to hit in the major leagues, which has been proven time and again over the last three years. But early –extremely early — reports on his 2014 commitment and added bulk have been good, starting with a leadoff homer against Hyun-jin Ryu in Sunday’s intrasquad game.
We’ve seen him impress in small samples and against lesser competition before, of course, so none of that matters yet. Still, I’d say it’s safely more than a 50/50 shot that he’s active for at least the Australia series — Matt Kemp not going helps free up a roster spot — and probably at least even that he breaks the start of the regular season back home on the roster. Hopefully, he can finally be useful. Even more hopefully, maybe he can avoid Montero while he’s in Australia.