JUPITER, FLA. – It can’t be easy being Dee Gordon’s younger brother. You’re trying to live up to your first-round-pick identity and get to the big leagues, and all anybody wants to do is make comparisons with a two-time All-Star.
For instance: Hey Nick, who’s the faster runner, you or Dee? “I’ve got to give it to Dee.”
OK, but base stealing requires more than sheer speed. Who’s better at swiping bases? “I don’t think there’s any better than him.”
Well, forget offense for the moment. You’re a shortstop, playing the most demanding position in the infield, and he’s over at second base. Which brother is the better fielder? “He’s a Gold Glover,” Nick Gordon shrugged. “I can’t really argue with that.”
Hoo, boy. Maybe the Twins have the wrong Gordon in training camp, eh?
Here’s the thing, though: They’re pretty confident they don’t. In Nick Gordon, who is getting his first exposure to major league camp this spring, the Twins believe they have an even brighter potential star, with above-average speed, middle-of-the-diamond defense and a middle-of-the-order batting stroke. As Assistant General Manager Rob Antony said in assessing the 21-year-old infielder, “For that position, now that he’s grown into his body, he’s got a lot of pop.”
Even Dee, who enjoys playing the skeptical elder brother — “He stinks,” Dee said with a straight face when the topic first came up — has to concede that’s true.
“He’s going to be strong. He’s already a lot bigger and stronger than me when I was 21,” the Marlins’ second baseman said. “He’s got a good eye, and you can already see he’s going to develop some power. Hopefully the Twins have got themselves a gem.”
The Twins got to see both sons of longtime MLB pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon on Friday, the first time that the brothers had appeared in the same professional game. It wasn’t particularly memorable in the boxscore — Dee went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, and Nick flew out to left field as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning — but it still meant something to Nick.
“Definitely. You see your brother out there, you want to be out there with him,” Nick said after the Twins’ 8-2 victory. “For me, that was exciting. Just to be able to watch him, know that we’re competing against him, it was definitely great.”
Dee, a former NL batting champion who turns 29 next month. was in the Miami clubhouse and missed his brother’s at-bat, because Nick originally wasn’t scheduled to play until Molitor realized the double-Gordon occasion. Maybe that was OK. To hear Dee tell it, their daily winter workouts inevitably dissolve into quarreling.
“He doesn’t listen to me. I don’t know who he listens to. We wind up arguing whenever I try to tell him something,” said Dee, who even taunted Nick about his spring-training uniform number: 83, “much worse,” he said than the 70 he wore as a camp rookie. “But we still work out every day. He always gets his work in. For a guy as young as he is, he’s really serious about it.”
The Twins have to decide in the next year or two whether they’re serious about keeping Nick at shortstop, which “is still up for discussion,” Molitor said. “He throws well enough to stay over there, and I have a feeling he might even get better, given his age and youth.”
There’s little doubt about his offensive ability, though. “It’s a little safe to say his bat’s ahead of his defense,” the manager said. In six spring at-bats, “I can only think of one that hasn’t been competitive.”
Progress. The older, more accomplished Gordon is thrilled to see it. “Nick is a hard worker and a real professional already,” Dee Gordon said. “There’s going to be no holding him back.”