Flash letting a challenging 2016 go

Flash letting a challenging 2016 go

JUPITER, Fla. -- Whether he's taking part in drills on a back field in Spring Training or at the plate in a big league ballpark, Dee Gordon plays with the same passion.

No matter the venue, the Marlins' second baseman is ready to go. He arrives early to camp with a clear focus on what's ahead, and not rehashing the events of 2016.

As an organization, the Marlins were dealt a devastating blow in late September when Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident. The emotional scars of the tragedy will not go away anytime soon.

The adversity brought the tightly knit club even closer.

"We're like a family," Gordon said. "It's an honor and a privilege to continue playing with these guys. Everybody is pretty much here. That's always good."

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As an organization, last year featured many highs and lows. The Marlins were nine games above .500 entering August before struggling late and finishing 79-82.

Personally, Gordon dealt with his own issue, as he served an 80-game suspension for being in violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy.

Gordon also delivered one of the most memorable moments of 2016. His improbable home run off Bartolo Colon the day after Fernandez's death will live forever in the hearts of Marlins fans.

Statcast: Gordon's poignant HR

But overall, Gordon never really got on track in 2016. After winning the National League batting title with a .333 average in '15, his slash line was a disappointing .268/.305/.335.

The way Gordon is approaching 2017, in part, is letting go of '16.

"It's another year," the 28-year-old said. "We're not talking about last year no more. Go play. Go work today. You can't do nothing about last year. You can't bring anything back that happened.

"Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. None of that. Everybody is working just like we're working. So we need to stop with that last-year stuff because last year can't do nothing for us this year."

Gordon on team chemistry

This is a critical season for this core of Miami players. The understanding is the time is now to take that next step.

The Marlins open their Grapefruit League schedule at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. It's the first test against another opponent.

"It just comes down to getting to it," Gordon said. "Everybody can be good in practice. We're professionals. Everybody's practice should be good."

The Marlins return all eight of their position players who started on Opening Day last year. Collectively, the club ranked fourth in the Majors in team batting average (.263), but it finished 27th in runs (655).

"We know what we did last year," Gordon said. "We know what we didn't do last year. It's either we're going to do it, or we're not going to do it. That's just cut and dry, simple. We're either going to do it, or we're not going to do it."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.