03/12/11 9:15 PM ET
Changes to Gordon's swing paying off
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
It appeared so on Saturday when he had six RBIs, three of them on a soaring home run in the Royals' seventh inning against Dodgers pitcher Oscar Villarreal.
When did Gordon last remember hitting such a massive homer? Maybe in college at the University of Nebraska with an aluminum bat?
"It's been a little time," Gordon said as he went back to his Triple-A days. "I did it a couple times in Omaha. It felt good -- the ball flies here in Arizona and the wind was blowing out."
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Gordon, batting a mere .067 after his first seven Cactus League games, is now up to .333 (9-for-27) after going 8-for-12 in his last five games.
"The timing was off. I was seeing the pitches good. I was just late and not making solid contact," he said. "Lately, I've been getting ready earlier and seeing pitches better and making good contact, and that's what it's all about. So definitely a big change in the last week."
Manager Ned Yost just kept playing Gordon, as a designated hitter or as the left fielder, to get him more trips to the plate. He was drawing plenty of walks -- he has 11 -- but the hits were slow in coming.
"Sometimes it takes time. It's hard to predict exactly when it's going to click for somebody, but Alex has really worked his tail off this winter with [hitting coach Kevin] Seitzer," Yost said. "I mean every day, in the cage, revamping the swing. When we got here, his timing was off and I always had the feeling if the timing got right, look out! And we're seeing a little bit of that right now."
Gordon appreciated his manager's persistence.
"He knew my timing was off and I told him, 'Just keep putting me out there until I figure it out,' so that definitely helped," Gordon said. "And give him credit for running me out there."
Against the Dodgers, Gordon also had an RBI double and a two-run single, and it was the latter that really caught Yost's attention.
"Actually I thought the base hit with two strikes on a high breaking ball to left field was just as pretty as the one he hit for a mile," Yost said. "Alex has it pretty dialed in."
Gordon, the Royals' first-round Draft pick in 2005 and the second selection overall, has never quite fulfilled his promise. In his first two seasons with Kansas City, he had .247 and .260 averages with just enough homers and RBIs to tease fans.
Then, in 2009, he had to undergo early season hip surgery. And last year, his season was sabotaged by a broken finger in Spring Training.
"Speed bumps along the way, but it is what it is and whatever happened in the past happened," Gordon said. "I'm hoping for a good season this year and our team's looking good right now, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
Working with Seitzer all winter, Gordon has adjusted his swing and recently made another change.
"I think I've pulled my hands back so I'm loaded instead of trying to find the load during the swing. I'm ready to go right off the bat," Gordon said. "I think that's helped, and I'm not late on pitches anymore, and I'm being aggressive."
The sessions with Seitzer finally are paying off.
"We've done a lot of work before -- just keeping it loose, not trying to swing so hard, just nice and easy -- 50 percent -- and I think it's helped," Gordon said. "Who knows? Let's hope it carries over into the season."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.