Opinion

Royals left fielder Alex Gordon hopes to begin rehab assignment by next weekend

Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, on the disabled list with a groin strain, warmed up in the outfield at Kauffman Stadium before Friday night’s game between the Royals and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Gordon says he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment as soon as next weekend.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, on the disabled list with a groin strain, warmed up in the outfield at Kauffman Stadium before Friday night’s game between the Royals and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Gordon says he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment as soon as next weekend. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

Less than six weeks have passed since Alex Gordon collapsed on the Kauffman Stadium warning track with a severely strained groin, but he is approaching the beginning of a rehabilitation assignment. Gordon indicated he plans to leave the team by next weekend to play in minor-league games.

The Royals have not officially announced the date of Gordon’s departure. Gordon explained he would travel with the team on this coming road trip to Cincinnati and Boston, but he would not return home with them. He said he would rehab with Class AAA Omaha. The Storm Chasers return home from Las Vegas on Sunday for a week-long stint at Werner Park.

Gordon did not reveal a timetable of how many rehab games he will need to play. The initial diagnosis of his injury called for an eight-week layoff.

“I think we’re just going to play it by ear, see how it goes,” Gordon said. “I think that we’ll be in contact during the rehab process. I’m going to be honest with them. I’m going to tell them if I feel comfortable.”

Gordon, the 31-year-old left fielder, landed on the disabled list in the midst of his best offensive season since 2011. Gordon posted an .852 on-base plus slugging percentage, with 11 homers and 13 doubles in 78 games.

Gordon has been able to take full batting practice on the field, in addition to shagging fly balls in the outfield before games. He feels no discomfort at the plate, he explained. The bigger challenge will be gauging how his body responds to the stress of fielding his position.

“So far, from what I’ve done, (the biggest test will be) going after fly balls and making that last adjustments to maybe dive or extend or something like that,” Gordon said. “It’s just that game adrenaline might kick in. I might do it. I haven’t done it yet. I might test it out in Omaha. But I definitely don’t want to get hurt in Omaha.”

Kansas City Royals Eric Hosmer talks about bouncing back from a loss and playing featured games on Sunday night.

Three weeks into Gordon’s recovery process, the Royals acquired super-utility man Ben Zobrist, who has become their regular left fielder. Zobrist could shift to either right field or second base upon Gordon’s return.

But the presence of Zobrist, plus the double-digit lead the Royals hold in the division, provides Gordon with reasons to take his time in his rehabilitation.

“There’s really no rush,” Gordon said. “We’ve got guys that are filling in and doing the job, and our team’s playing good. So there’s no reason to rush it.”

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost looks at Sunday night games as just another baseball game, and values the versatility of Ben Zobrist.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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