Before he walked out of the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium on the night of April 28, Dee Gordon said he apologized to his teammates.
“I asked them to keep it close until I got back, and that’s exactly what they did,” Gordon said. “Now I have to keep my end of the bargain and help them make the playoffs.”
Gordon was back in the Marlins clubhouse Thursday, three months after the 2015 National League batting champion, Gold Glove second baseman and stolen bases leader was suspended 80 games for testing positive for two performance-enhancing substances.
He reiterated his apologetic message to his teammates and the Marlins organization, taking responsibility.
“I did what I had to do, I served my suspension,” Gordon said. “I took full responsibility for it. I’m going to get past this. After today I want to be done with it. Once I put that jersey on, and I get on the field, I’m done with it. My family’s been great. The Marlins have been great. I think I did a pretty good job of staying out of the way and working my tail off.”
Several hours before he took his first at-bat in three months, Gordon took to social media to apologize to his fans.
In a 3-minute, 25-second video apology posted on Twitter @uninterrupted, Gordon said: “I made a mistake, man.”
Gordon, 28, thanked his family, friends and the Marlins’ organization for standing by him. Gordon also apologized to his young fans that idolize him and told them he would work hard to earn their trust again.
“I feel like I was a good person,” Gordon said, “Now I need to be a great one. My family stood by me. My parents and coaches taught me how to be a pro. You have to hold yourself accountable … I didn’t. Being the smallest guy around, I didn’t think I would fail a drug test. I didn’t pay attention. … That’s my fault.
“I let you down, and I’m sorry.”
Gordon met with the team before addressing the media prior to the Marlins game against the Cardinals.
“I kept in touch with my teammates pretty much on a daily basis,” Gordon said. “I watched the Marlins game pretty much every night,” Gordon said. “The emotion was happiness because those guys were playing so well.”
Several teammates said they were happy to have him back and excited for what his return meant for a team that is in serious playoff contention with 60 games left after Thursday.
“It’s exciting,” Chris Johnson said. “We love Dee. We were all ready for him to come back. None of us in here hold a grudge or judge him. There’s nobody perfect in this locker room. He paid his punishment and now he’s back, we focus on baseball and let that go.”
Gordon said he spent three or four weeks training his Jupiter and his father, former Major-Leaguer Tom Gordon, pitched to him as well.
“We continue to learn from our mistakes and we have to grow,” Tom Gordon said. “There’s no person with greater care and compassion for others than my son. He will bounce back and become a better person.”
Gordon played nine rehab games in New Orleans with the Triple-A team this past week and went 9 for 35 with a double, a triple and three stolen bases.
Gordon said his goal for the remainder of the season is to keep his word to his teammates and help them make it to the playoffs.
Gordon, who is ineligible to play in the postseason should the Marlins make it, believes he can still be the same type of player he was during his spectacular 2015 season.
“I know I can,” Gordon said. “You just have to wait and watch.”
▪ Justin Bour will start his rehab assignment Friday at Triple-A New Orleans with the hope he can return by next week’s road series against the Cubs.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (1-2, 5.34 ERA) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Mike Leake (7-7, 4.24), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 5.95) vs. Cardinals TBA, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.