© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
08/14/07 10:33 PM ET
Notes: Gordon steadily improving
Touted rookie rebounding after slow start to season
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- A warning to pitchers: The Alex Gordon you saw at the plate in April and June for the Royals is not the same Alex Gordon you will see in August. Gordon was hitting just .173 on June 6. He had a four-hit game on June 7 and has never looked back. In his past 56 games, Gordon is hitting .308 to raise his average from .172 to .244, a 72-point jump. "The way Alex has handled this, he's been the same guy every day, whether he was hitting .149 or hitting .300 over the last 60 games," Royals hitting coach Mike Barnett said on Tuesday. "A lot of guys probably would have caved in. To be able to stay the same and not panic, to continue to work through things, that's special. "He learns from every single day," Barnett added. "[He] learns from every single experience, while a lot of guys just take it for granted. To me, that's why next year he's going to bounce back and take off." Even when Gordon was struggling, Barnett thought it was best that he stay in the Majors, where he would see better pitching every game -- rather than go back to the Minors. "I don't think there was ever a situation where it was a confidence problem," Barnett said. "He's certainly confident in what he's doing. You can have guys who go through the tough times and made adjustments to it, that's when you've got some special guys." Barnett believes he has another extraordinary hitter in Billy Butler, who took a .296 average with a .430 slugging percentage into Tuesday. Butler, who hit .341 with 24 RBIs in July, drove in a run on Tuesday night with a two-out single in the first. "He's as advanced [a] 21-year-old hitter as I've ever seen," Barnett said. "He's special. He's got a very good memory, too, on pitchers that he's faced in the past. He can tell you how they tried to attack him. He'll remember every pitch sequence that the guy threw at him. His recall is tremendous." "He just has a very innate feel about how pitchers are trying to pitch him and what he's trying to do at the plate," Barnett said. "He stays within his mechanics, day in and day out. That's something you love to see in a young hitter. The league is always going to try to adjust to you. I think with the aptitude he has and that innate ability, that's he's going to be able to make adjustments." Sweeney improving: Mike Sweeney, who had arthroscopic right knee surgery on July 5, ran the infield arc seven times, and to cones spaced 30 yards apart before the game. He also continues to take batting practice. "I'm doing better," Sweeney said. If Sweeney can run the bases with no problems, he could be sent on Minor League rehab assignment this weekend, although no timetable has been set. "If it's up to me, I'd be out now," Sweeney said. "It's not up to me. It's up to Buddy [Bell] and the training staff." Rehabbing pitchers: Brandon Duckworth, who has been out since June 14 with a left oblique strain, is scheduled to make his third Minor League rehab start on Wednesday for Triple-A Omaha. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who went on the disabled list Aug. 1 with an elbow strain, is scheduled to throw bullpens on Thursday and Sunday, using all his pitches. Pitching coach Bob McClure said De La Rosa would need "at least three more 'pens before we send him out." John Thomson, who went on the DL on July 16 with lower back spasms, will make his third Minor League rehab start on Thursday for Double-A Wichita. Minor points: Justin Huber has 54 RBIs in 56 games with Omaha. ... Matt Wright held Memphis to one run and five hits over 7 2/3 innings in Omaha's 4-2 victory on Monday. Wright has won six straight decisions. ... Outfielder Brian McFall leads Class A Wilmington with 12 home runs and 60 RBIs. ...Third baseman Mario Lisson singled Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games for Wilmington. On deck: Gil Meche (7-10, 3.95 ERA) pitches for Kansas City against Texas' Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.69) in Wednesday night's middle game of the three-game series.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.