ANAHEIM -- The Dodgers handed Dee Gordon the starting shortstop job last summer when they dealt Rafael Furcal at the Trade Deadline, and now they acknowledge they might have jumped the gun.
"We all kind of got fooled by his second half last year," manager Don Mattingly said Saturday of Gordon's second callup last year, when he hit .345 en route to a .304 overall average in 56 games.
"We kind of assumed he would take off again and his Spring Training was really good. We talk about that being a factor. It's been more of a battle than I thought. I didn't think he'd be .330 with 50 bags, but I thought he'd be more consistent than he's been."
As a result, the Dodgers are trying to play catch-up in Gordon's seasoning. He entered Saturday hitting .220 (.167 against lefties) and was in an 0-for-17 slump before hitting a single to lead off the game vs. the Angels. Gordon had another session with bunting instructor Maury Wills on Saturday and was watching video of his at-bats with Mattingly.
"If the premise is that we rushed him, we've got to be patient," Mattingly said. "A lot of times in the past guys come up and you say they should be ready to play. You're always kind of teaching in a way, but not to give him so much that you overload him. We try to be cognizant of that."
Mattingly said a player with Gordon's limited experience (397 Minor League games) probably wouldn't have been in the Major Leagues during Mattingly's day (Mattingly played in 500 Minor League games). But when plans were made for the 2012 roster, the Dodgers were bankrupt and the payroll was being slashed.
"The reason we're at with Dee is last year we traded Fukey and pretty much made the commitment," Mattingly said. "We were cutting back payroll at that point and we wanted to see who could play and who can't. So we're trying to build something here and suddenly we're in first place and it's like, what are we doing here?
"I go back to the winter -- we're cutting payroll, didn't have the money and we did what we had to do. The decisions haven't been bad. We let Rod Barajas go and A.J. Ellis has played well. I think Dee, in the end, is going to be a great player. The thing I love is that he wants to be great. Just don't let him get down on himself and he's going to be great."
Guerrier frustrated by slow progress of elbow
ANAHEIM -- Dodgers reliever Matt Guerrier, on the disabled list since April 19 with elbow tendinitis and still shut down, said he's finally noticing improvement but is frustrated with the slow pace of his recovery.
"I haven't thrown in over a month now," Guerrier said. "I could still feel it when the doctor pushes on it, but the last few days have been better. When I start to get my head around the possibility that I'll need something [surgically] done, it starts feeling better, then I'll have a bad day again. The hardest part is that it's not consistently good or bad."
Guerrier said if he's not able to throw by the end of July, he will probably submit to repair surgery that would sideline him for six months.
"I just want to be able to pitch again," he said.
Kemp's recovery on track after light workout
ANAHEIM -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, sore from three rigorous rehab workouts, had a light day Saturday, manager Don Mattingly said.
Judging from Kemp's upbeat attitude, however, his recovery from a strained left hamstring remains on track. There still is no timetable for his return, although he's indicated he wants to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby (he's captain of the National League team) even if he can't play in the All-Star Game.
Ted Lilly, who played soft-toss catch for the first time in three weeks on Friday, said he came out of it without aggravating the inflamed left shoulder that put him on the disabled list. Mattingly said he will throw every other day.
Reliever Javy Guerra also had no complaints after Friday's first bullpen session since right knee surgery.
Mattingly said pitcher Blake Hawksworth, who opened a rehab assignment at Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night, will make another appearance Sunday. He's likely to take the entire 20-day window, after which the Dodgers will face a roster decision because Hawksworth is out of options.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.