Gordon to play left field in Minors
Lack of outfield power in system behind switch from third
KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon's move to Omaha was just the first step. He's also moving to a new position with the Triple-A club, left field.
It's not known if this means Gordon's once-bright future as the Royals' third baseman is over. Or if first base might not be an option for him.
"But right now we're going to put him in left field," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
Tuesday, Moore was in Omaha, where Gordon was scheduled to play against Oklahoma City, and in left field.
"If you look at how we're set up internally with our talent potentially, Alex fits in left field," Moore said. "We're not closing the book on anything but, for the last year or so, he's been taking fly balls out there and it's something we've been talking about internally for over a year now."
The Royals have Mike Moustakas, a third baseman with power potential who was their No. 1 Draft choice in 2007, moving right along. He's at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and off to a .394 start in 11 games with four homers, eight doubles and 13 RBIs.
However, Moore emphasizes that Alberto Callaspo is the Royals' third baseman now, moving from second base, where Chris Getz is back after a stay on the disabled list. Callaspo has been a solid hitter -- four homers, 16 RBIs -- and third base is his best position. Getz's strong defense is a big reason the Royals obtained him.
"Who knows what'll happen with our young players in the Minor Leagues, but we lack some depth with our outfield power potential, and it's a place that we think Alex can play," Moore said. "The bottom line is Alex missed most of last year, and we're going to commit to Callaspo at third and Getz at second. And it doesn't do Alex or the Royals organization any good to get six or eight at-bats a week. He needs to go out and play."
Gordon played just 49 games for the Royals last year after undergoing hip surgery. He was slow gearing up and had to spend three weeks with Omaha late in the season. He finished with a .232 average.
In Spring Training, Gordon was making excellent progress but then broke his right thumb in a headfirst slide into second base in the third Cactus League game. So he had to spend rehab time in the Minors before rejoining the Royals on April 17. In 12 games, he batted just .194 with his only RBI on his only homer, a game-winner.
The Royals face uncertainty in their outfield situation for 2011 because left fielder Scott Podsednik and center fielder Rick Ankiel both have mutual options next year on their contracts, for $2 million and $6 million, respectively, and right fielder David DeJesus has a club option for $6 million. Jose Guillen, now the designated hitter, is headed into free agency.
"You hope the Minor League players you have force your hand but right now it's more about our team in 2010 and 2011 and where it all fits," Moore said.
Some of that fitting will also be scrutinized in the infield, where Mike Aviles, called up to replace Gordon on the roster, could pose a challenge to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
Betancourt has been more impressive on defense this season but, since his batting average crested at .347 on April 26, he's been in a 2-for-25 swoon. Aviles, on the other hand, has to prove that his surgically-repaired elbow can provide his arm with enough zip on long throws.
Gordon's defense at third base wasn't a problem after his surgery and, in Moore's view, he hadn't lost mobility or flexibility.
"I don't think so," Moore said. "It turned out pretty good. I think his range and his quickness have been fine."
But left field is his spot for now.
"This isn't the script that Alex or we planned but, in the end, it's going to be a happy ending," Moore said. "Alex is going to produce offensively and I still have all the confidence in the world that he's going to be a very good, productive Major League player."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.