LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon wasn't in the Dodgers' starting lineup Wednesday, but manager Don Mattingly defended his rookie's status as the club's sometimes fill-in leadoff hitter.
In 58 plate appearances, Gordon has a .298 on-base percentage, with only two walks to 13 strikeouts and a .273 batting average. But Mattingly said he doesn't believe Gordon is reluctant to take pitches.
"He'll take pitches, but with a guy with that kind of speed, they're basically saying, 'Hit your way on,'" Mattingly said of Gordon, who has been the Dodgers' primary leadoff hitter and shortstop since Rafael Furcal went on the disabled list June 4 with a strained oblique muscle.
"It's not like they're not trying to throw strikes. There are nuances to hitting leadoff and you have to take pitches at certain times. He's been working on it for two or three years. You see reports about his plate discipline and on-base percentage. Obviously, he's not Rickey Henderson, hitting 25 to 30 home runs. He's got to find a way to get on base.
"I think he's held his own. I don't look at him and go, 'He's overmatched.' They'll get him sometimes, but he doesn't seem overmatched. His swing is too big at times. But you've got a guy who runs like that, everybody wants him to be a slap hitter. This guy's swing is solid. I think it's going to play as he gets experience and grows up. I think he'll sting the ball more than people think he looks like he can. He's not going to be a guy they can play totally cheap."
Broxton's velocity in rehab encouraging to LA
LOS ANGELES -- The run Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton allowed during his one-inning rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday didn't seem to matter to Don Mattingly.
Instead, the Dodgers manager focused on the reports he got noting the right-hander's velocity. He said it was in the mid-90s throughout the inning, an increase from the low-90s fastball Broxton was throwing before going on the disabled list.
Broxton, who has missed six weeks with a bruised bone in his elbow, struck out two and allowed a walk that scored on a two-out double.
Mattingly said eventually he thinks Broxton will fall back into the closer's role. He won't throw him directly into the ninth inning, but he said the team has the best chance to win if Broxton's velocity is enough to warrant being the team's closer.
"It's hard to just bring a guy back ... and just throw him into that ninth-inning spot," Mattingly said. "I think we try to get him into some games, get him comfortable on the mound, see where he's at and get him there."
Broxton had a 5.68 ERA with seven saves before going on the DL. Mattingly said he thought Broxton's struggles were a product of his lower velocity as a result of the injury.
"When a guy goes from 98-99, and a year later he's 91, something's going on," Mattingly said. "That usually doesn't lie. You could say mechanics this or mechanics that, but at some point that's a big difference. And the fact that it's jumped in his first outing back kind of shows there was something going on there."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. AJ Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.