In a rare appearance in center field, Alex Gordon made it look fairly easy.
In the bottom of the ninth on Sunday, Gordon punctuated a 14-6 Royals victory over the White Sox by stealing a home run from Chicago rookie Nicky Delmonico. With two outs and a man on base, Gordon tracked a deep drive in right-center field and leapt at the wall, hauling in the baseball with a perfectly timed catch.
“Something like that just happens kind of quick,” Gordon said, trying to assess the degree of difficulty. “You really don’t have time to think about it. I just took a good route to it and had a clean jump. It felt pretty easy.”
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Gordon was out of the lineup on Sunday against left-hander Derek Holland. But when the game became a blowout, he replaced Lorenzo Cain in center field, offering the Royals’ regular starter a breather.
For years, Gordon has pestered manager Ned Yost about playing center field. He loved Ken Griffey Jr. as a kid. So maybe that’s it, he says.
But what began as a semi-serious inquiry soon turned into an inside joke. He kept asking and asking, and then it became a reality this year when the Royals lacked a natural backup center fielder. And in rare appearances, Gordon has acquitted himself quite well.
“Cain obviously does a great job,” Gordon said. “I just try to fill in as best as I can when I go out there. Just doing whatever I can to help the pitchers save some runs. I know [reliever Neftali] Feliz was probably happy about it.”
Gordon sought to downplay the moment, yet he offered a touch of dry humor when asked if the ball would have cleared the fence easily. He had not seen the video, he said. But he had an idea.
“I don’t really have that good a jump,” Gordon said. “So it probably wasn’t too far over.”