Gordon placed on 15-day disabled list
Slugger needs surgery for labral cartilage tear of right hip
KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon's right hip injury proved to be much more serious than imagined.
Gordon, the Royals' third baseman, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a labral cartilage tear of the right hip. He will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear on Friday by Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo.
The Royals said no estimate on how long Gordon might be out would be available until after the procedure. He was injured Saturday and missed the next two games but played the last two games.
Philippon has been called the "hip doctor to the stars," most notably the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who underwent athroscopic surgery for repair of a hip labrum tear on March 9. Other patients have included golfer Greg Norman, hockey's Mario Lemeieux and football's Priest Holmes.
Rodriguez was expected to be out nine weeks after his surgery.
To take Gordon's place on the roster, Kansas City recalled outfielder Mitch Maier from Triple-A Omaha.
Manager Trey Hillman said that Mark Teahen would replace Gordon as the starting third baseman.
Teahen, whom Gordon replaced as the third baseman two years ago, has been playing in right field for the Royals' other disabled regular, Jose Guillen. He is on the disabled list, also with a right hip injury, but is expected to return by April 25.
"It seems like Teahen is the natural choice, because he's the most natural third baseman and, obviously, offensively we want Teahen's bat in the lineup," Hillman said.
"I think it makes us the best defensively on that side."
For right field, it most likely will be Maier, a left-handed batter, or Willie Bloomquist, a right-handed batter, depending on the matchup with pitchers.
This could be a big break for Maier, who was getting considerable playing time last season after being recalled from Omaha on July 24 when Joey Gathright went on the disabled list. However, on Aug. 20, he was hit in the face by a pitch at Cleveland and missed 19 games with a cheekbone fracture.
Maier batted .370 (10-for-27) in six games for Omaha, with two homers and nine RBIs. He'll join the Royals on Friday night when they open a series at Texas.
Last season, Maier hit .286 in 34 games for Kansas City after posting a .316 mark for Omaha. He's considered a good gap hitter -- 14 homers is his Minor League high -- and an outstanding outfielder.
Bloomquist, though primarily an infielder, has started three games in right field this year. He's batting .231.
Teahen, in his two seasons at third base for the Royals, built a reputation as a solid defender. He played third base once in Gordon's place this year and made 19 starts there last season.
"There's always the possibility, depending on what the matchups are, if we decide we want Mark back out in right field on any given day, then we might have Mike Aviles at third and Tony Pena back at short," Hillman said.
Aviles, the regular shortstop, logged a game at third base last Monday while Pena played shortstop and made at least one dazzling play.
Gordon's injury apparently occurred when he slid into second base during a force play in Saturday's game against the Yankees. He aggravated the hip when bolting from the batter's box in his next at-bat and was replaced after five innings by Teahen.
After missing the games on Sunday and Monday because the hip was sore, Gordon returned to play Tuesday and Wednesday. In those two games, he was 0-for-6 and struck out four times.
It's been a struggle at-bat throughout the first 10 days of the season for Gordon. He's just 2-for-21 (.095) with one homer and three RBIs in seven games.
Hillman noted that Gordon insisted that he was ready to play this week.
"He's extremely tough," Hillman said. "I was hesitant, but he was so adamant about being able to play. But there was soreness there, and I think it's a testament to just how tough he is. Then, obviously, after a couple days, he realized that he might need to go ahead and get something done."
For Teahen, it's already been a whirlwind season. He began the season as the second baseman after learning the position during Spring Training. He became the first Royals players in history to start four consecutive seasons at different positions -- third base, left field, right field and second base.
Since Teahen moved to Guillen's spot (and once to Gordon's), Alberto Callaspo has taken over at second base. A switch-hitter, he's batting .286. Callaspo and Bloomquist were Teahen's rivals for the second-base job in Spring Training.
Teahen, in the Royals' 5-4 start, is batting .258 (8-for-31) with two RBIs.
Although the Royals share first place in the American League Central, they are faced with two regulars out of the lineup after just nine games. Guillen played just three games.
"You don't want to start the season that way, for sure," general manager Dayton Moore said, "but you just need the others to pick things up."
Moore said that Gordon felt some tightness in his hip during the opening series in Chicago but played anyway. The slide on Saturday evidently aggravated the situation.
He noted that Guillen seemed on his way to a quick return but there was no timetable for Gordon until after the surgery.
"Any time you have surgery, you're looking at weeks," Moore said. "Hopefully, it's not months."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.