Gordon wants outfield move to be only move
With his name circulating in rumors, youngster hopes to stay
KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon's buddy in the corner of the Royals' clubhouse, outfielder David DeJesus, has been traded. Gordon can't help but wonder if he might be next.
General manager Dayton Moore got the offseason off and running by dealing DeJesus to the Oakland A's for pitchers Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks.
"It's sad to see it happen, but you kind of had a feeling it was going to happen with his contract and everything," Gordon said. "I think we got two good pitchers out of it, so maybe it'll help us. I know everybody's going to be sorry to see Dave go. He's been around for probably longer than any of the Royals I've known. So we're surely going to miss him, but that's part of the business."
Certainly, Gordon's name has been mentioned in the rumor mill.
"It has been," Gordon said. "I talked to my agent a little bit and teams have been calling with interest, and I think Dayton is going to do anything he can to help the team get better. So if there's a trade opportunity out there that he thinks is going to help the team, it might happen. I surely don't want it to happen, but it's part of baseball and it could happen."
Interested clubs reportedly include Oakland, Toronto and Colorado.
Gordon's market appeal and anticipated return is tempered by his struggles at the plate last season. He batted a mere .215 in a season that included a broken finger, a trip to the Minors and a change of positions. Gordon had a lot on his plate -- all of which left him looking ahead to 2011 with a singular attitude.
"Very determined," he said.
That matched Gordon's expression on Tuesday, just before he donned an apron and dispensed smiles and food, joining Royals associates in serving a Thanksgiving meal to hungry men and women at the City Union Mission, a downtown haven in Kansas City.
Gordon is staying in KC, where he'll start work with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer on Dec. 1, getting a big jump on Spring Training.
The last two years have been rough for the left-handed-hitting Gordon. In 2009, the season barely began before he underwent extensive right hip surgery. He got into just 49 big league games and hit .232. Everything was fine with the hip in Spring Training 2010, but on March 6, he slid head first into second base against Texas and suffered a broken right thumb.
Gordon came back on April 17, hit just .194 and was sent down to Triple-A Omaha. There, in addition to sharpening his batting eye, he was shifted from third base to the outfield. The idea was that he'd be more useful there, because Mike Moustakas was headed toward the third-base job in Kansas City.
It was a new refrain on an old story. In 2007, Mark Teahen shifted from third base to the outfield to make way for Gordon, who -- like Moustakas -- had been a top Draft choice.
Gordon adapted well to the change, and when he returned to the Royals on July 23 after DeJesus smashed into the Yankee Stadium wall, the outfield was his home. In short order, Scott Podsednik was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gordon became the regular left fielder.
"I liked it," Gordon said. "It was a fun, new adventurous thing that I took on and I liked it. The first week when I got called up, it was a little different and I wasn't taking the routes I wanted to, and later in the year, it almost felt kind of natural, it felt good out there."
His repaired right hip is just fine, according to Gordon, and it was the broken thumb and all that missed training time that led to his poor season at the plate.
Gordon vows he won't be doing any head-first slides in Spring Training next year although, as he showed after his return in the regular season, he'll still launch himself that way at times. It's just natural to him. But OK, he won't do it at home plate.
"I realize home plate is somewhere you don't want to slide head first, but other places, I've been doing it my whole life and it was just one of those things that just happened," Gordon said. "You know, you see millions of guys in the big leagues slide head first and you've just got to be careful about it. You can't be Pete Rose going into the bag or anything like that."
Being Pete Rose swinging a bat, though, wouldn't be bad at all.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.