As little as three years ago, an Alex Gordon slump — however minor — might have provided cause for concern.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Times have changed.
Gordon, the Royals’ leadoff hitter, is mired in a 10-for-65 slump over the month of June following a hitless series in Cleveland. And he’s without an extra-base hit since a double against Minnesota on June 6.
The numbers were greeted with a shrug by both player and manager Friday.
“You’re going to go through some good times. And unless you’re Miguel Cabrera, you’re going to go through some bad times,” Gordon said. “I’m just staying with my approach, staying positive and getting (my) work in.”
The funk has dropped Gordon’s average from a high-water mark of .352 on May 21 to .288 entering play Friday. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage has fallen from .920 to .761 over that time.
So what’s changed?
Well, for starters, Gordon says he has seen a higher quantity of pitches away — on the outer half of the plate or stretched farther outside the strike zone.
“I’m not necessarily trying to hit the ball the other way. But if the pitch is outside like they’ve been doing, I’m going to try to hit the ball that way,” Gordon said. “I’m just hitting it where it’s pitched.”
Gordon says he’s not seeing pitches as well as he would prefer, though he is walking at a higher rate this month than in April or May.
Yost pointed to those numbers — as well as Gordon working deep into counts — as reasons he doesn’t foresee a prolonged slump for his leadoff hitter.
“He doesn’t look any different to me now than he did three weeks ago,” Yost said. “It’s like turning on a light switch. All of a sudden one at-bat can get him hot — him and Billy (Butler) both.
“We need both of those guys to flick that switch and get going offensively. You know that both Billy and Alex have the capability of carrying a club offensively for an extended period of time. Just wait for that time to happen.”
Tejada gets added start
Miguel Tejada went six consecutive years — from 2001 through 2006 — without missing a game.
Those days are gone, but Tejada remains more than a late-inning threat off the bench. He was in the lineup Friday for the fifth time in the past two weeks with the Royals taking on White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago.
“He can tote more of a workload,” Yost said. “I think three or four days per week would balance him out about right.”
In 15 starts this season, Tejada is batting .306. He has hit two home runs and driven in nine runs — all while a member of the starting lineup.
“It’s a luxury to have a guy (who) has that much experience and can still play the game at a high level,” Yost said.
Paulino back on track
Right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino returned to the mound for a bullpen session Friday — four days after he was recalled from a minor-league rehab assignment because of lower-back soreness.
Tying to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, Paulino expects to make his rehab start next week.
“It’s nothing,” Paulino said. “Everybody says it’s just a couple of days. I expect to go back out next week. It’s just a little strain in my back.”
Paulino said he experienced no problems after the bullpen session Friday.
“I feel great,” he said. “They wanted to see personally how I looked. There’s nothing to worry about.
Rays-Royals makeup set
Remember that snowstorm May 2 that postponed the finale of the Royals-Tampa Bay series?
Seven weeks later, Major League Baseball has announced a makeup date. The two teams will meet at 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 26 for a Monday afternoon game at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals close out a home series against Washington on Aug. 25 before traveling to Minnesota on Aug. 27. The makeup date interrupts a six-game homestand for the Rays.
Tickets purchased for the original date will be honored for the makeup game.
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