Several years ago there was a very clever (and funny) DHL television commercial that made light of former MLB veteran center fielder Kenny Lofton being traded so often that nobody, not even DHL, knew exactly where to ship his gear to next. And even though Lofton never actually appeared in the commercial (except in a background photograph), it was still a very successful ad campaign for the shipping company (and I assume that Kenny made a few bucks off of it too).
Although the commercial was made in jest, in reality Lofton had a brilliant 17-year career in the Majors while playing for 11 different teams, including three stints with the Cleveland Indians where he spent 10 of his 17 Big league seasons. He played one season (2006) with the Dodgers in which he hit .301 (141 for 469 ) in 129 games played and he was one of my favorite Dodger players that season (he would occasionally toss a ball up to me after his between-innings warm-ups with J.D. Drew).
The 6-time All-Star and 4-time Gold Glove Award winner played in a total of 2,103 games during his career, had 8,120 official At Bats (9,235 plate appearances), collected 2,428 hits including 383 doubles, 116 triples and 130 home runs, scored 1,528 Runs, had 781 RBIs and ended his career with an excellent .372 On-Base Percentage. When Loften retired in 2008, he did so with a very impressive .299 career batting average and 622 career stolen bases, which ranks 15th all-time in MLB history.
So what does Kenny Lofton have to do with the 2012 Dodgers, you ask? Plenty. Prior to Friday night’s game against the New York Mets, Lofton spent over an hour working with Dodger shortstop Dee Gordon on his hitting, bunting, and base running. Talk about a Jedi Master working with a young protégé.
To say that Dee Gordon needs the help is an understatement. In fact, when I mentioned to former MLB manager and current DodgerTalk Radio host Kevin Kennedy that Lofton had worked with Dee on his hitting prior to the game, Kennedy jokingly said “Ya, it helped a lot.” (Dee went 0 for 3 with a strikeout; but then the Dodgers only had three hits on the night against likely All-Star Game starter R.A. Dickey, who struck out 10). Kennedy then quickly pointed out in all seriousness that help from a guy like Kenny Lofton is a great thing, adding that “Dee is a work in progress.”
Whether Lofton’s personal tutoring will actually help the struggling Dodger shortstop or not remains to be seen, but no one can dispute that Dee is getting personal attention from one of the game’s best.