PHOENIX -- Dee Gordon, the promising rookie shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, avoided serious injury on Saturday night when he hurt his right shoulder during a rundown play in the bottom of the third inning. Gordon immediately left the game, but after an initial examination, Dr. Brian Shafer, one of the Dodgers' team physicians, ruled out a dislocation or separation and determined that no X-rays were necessary.
Gordon is listed as day to day, but he said after the game his shoulder was sore and that he definitely won't play in Sunday's series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The injury took place as rookie right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who was making his major league debut, caught Diamondbacks second baseman Kelly Johnson too far off first and had him picked off. When Eovaldi threw over, Johnson broke for second, where Gordon was covering. After first baseman Juan Rivera threw the ball to Gordon, Johnson reversed course and headed back to first, and Gordon, who possesses superior speed, decided to chase Johnson almost all the way rather than throwing to Eovaldi, who had come over to cover first.
Johnson got so close to first that Gordon had to dive into his back in order to apply the tag with his left hand. In doing so, Gordon attempted to brace himself with his right hand, but he planted his hand so hard in the dirt that the shock went all the way to his shoulder. He stayed on the ground in obvious pain for several minutes before assistant trainer Todd Tomczyk escorted him off the field and into the clubhouse.
"It was a little weird," Gordon said. "I thought my hand was going to slide. But it just kind of stuck, and my elbow jammed into the ground, and that kind of jarred my shoulder."
As the play was unfolding, it appeared Johnson had such a significant head start on Gordon and that it would have been more prudent for Gordon, his speed notwithstanding, to run Johnson part of the way back to first, then throw the ball to Eovaldi for the tag.
"It was awfully close," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "The pitcher was there, so we were covered and did everything right. I'm sure (Gordon) didn't think about getting hurt but that he could get him, and he did. It's hard to (second guess the choice) when he got him, but it was awfully close."
Gordon didn't feel he had made the wrong decision in running down Johnson.
"I have been told I should have (thrown), but I play hard," Gordon said. "I felt like I could catch him. I was playing my game, and I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. It was a play I felt I could make. Things happen. You can't tense up and think, "I maybe could get hurt right here.' The game is on the line. I am going to give it my all for my pitcher."
Gordon was promoted to the majors after Rafael Furcal was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at last month's deadline. Club officials plan to play Gordon at shortstop for the rest of the season to gauge whether he is a viable candidate to take over the position long-term beginning next year, but that plan would have gone awry if Gordon had suffered a serious injury.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com