Miami Marlins

Marlins set to welcome back Dee Gordon following 80-game suspension

Dee Gordon, last year’s winner of the National League batting title and a Gold Glove recipient, returns to the Marlins on Thursday from his 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Dee Gordon, last year’s winner of the National League batting title and a Gold Glove recipient, returns to the Marlins on Thursday from his 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Dee Gordon is on the cusp of returning to the Marlins.

The winner of last year’s National League batting title and a Gold Glove recipient will be back on the Marlins’ roster on Thursday after serving his 80-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, just in time for the Marlins’ four-game series against the Cardinals to close out a 10-game homestand.

“It’s the end of his suspension. He has served it,” Marlins president David Samson said Wednesday. “He will be welcomed back into the clubhouse. I believe that America and our fans and our players and us, we’re a pretty forgiving society and it’s important that Dee asks for that forgiveness, which he has and will receive that.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he did not have a corresponding roster move prepared for when Gordon is brought back.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly reacts to news of Dee Gordon being suspended for 80 games following the Marlins first ever sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles

Gordon’s return will bring a jolt of speed into the every-day lineup and provides another solid glove in the infield. Gordon batted .333 as the Marlins’ leadoff hitter last season with a team-high eight triples and an MLB-high 58 stolen bases.

In the field, Gordon committed just six errors in 144 starts, and his .992 fielding percentage was second among second baseman last year only to the Astros’ Jose Altuve (.993).

Gordon was hitting .266 with a .289 on-base percentage with six stolen bases prior to the suspension.

“It will be nice to get Dee back,” Mattingly said Tuesday. “He’s that guy who helps with that continuity in your lineup.”

Marlins President David Samson reacts Thursday to Dee Gordon being suspended 80 games for use of PEDs

Gordon will likely be inserted back as the Marlins’ regular second baseman, which would free up Derek Dietrich from his every-day starting role.

Dietrich has been steady as Gordon’s main replacement at second base, posting a .272 batting average and committing just four errors. Since the All-Star break, however, Dietrich has fallen into a slump, going just 4 for 35 (.114 average) with 12 strikeouts. Three of those four hits came in the finale of a four-game road series against the Phillies.

Dietrich had Wednesday off.

He will likely share time at first base with Chris Johnson for the immediate future while Justin Bour continues to recover from a high-ankle sprain. Bour went on the disabled list July 3, and Mattingly said he is expected to begin playing rehab games with the Marlins’ Single A Advanced affiliate in Jupiter later this week.

Once Bour returns, Dietrich, along with Miguel Rojas, could serve as a spot starter.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria presented Dee Gordon with a neck pendant for winning the 2015 batting and stolen base titles.

While Gordon provides a big improvement for the Marlins and will be a factor as they push for their first playoff berth since their 2003 World Series-winning run, he will be ineligible to compete should the Marlins make the postseason.

“As far as the team is concerned, he’s going to come and do what he needs to do to get us to the postseason and then he’s going to be on the sidelines cheering with the rest of us,” Samson said.

The Marlins have proved they can win without him, too. In the 80 games without Gordon, the Marlins have gone 45-35.

“We’re not going to forget the rest of the players who got us these 80 games,” Samson said. “He asked the players to hang in there while he was away and they’ve done that, more than done that. It’s been a long 80 days for everyone.”

COMING UP

▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (12-4, 2.54 ERA) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (5-7, 4.37), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (1-2, 5.34) vs. Cardinals RHP Mike Leake (7-7, 4.24), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

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