After missing three straight games with a bruised hip and possible concussion, Alex Gordon returned to the Royals lineup Saturday during a 4-3 win against the Oakland Athletics.
He reached on an error in the first inning when pitcher Jarrod Parker was unable to pick up a squibber between the mound and first base.
Gordon, 29, drew three consecutive walks before striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
“It was great to be out there again,” Gordon said. “It seems like I’ve been on the bench for a good week just watching it, so it was a lot of fun to be out there.”
Major League Baseball, which requires an independent doctor to sign off on a player’s return after a suspected head injury, cleared Gordon to return Friday night.
Gordon, who thudded to the warning track and smacked the back of his head on the fence in Wednesday’s game while tracking a Jason Kipnis flyball, tested out his hip during batting practice before Friday’s game and appeared to be driving the ball well and swinging without discomfort.
He was ready to go on Saturday.
“I just had to get out there and get it loose,” Gordon said. “Once I got the adrenaline going everything, I did some early work and it felt pretty good. It hurts more when I’m not playing than when I am playing.”
There wasn’t any apparent rust either.
“Not really, I felt more excited than usual just because I’d been out a couple days,” Gordon said. “I was glad to be back out there and glad it wasn’t more serious than it was. I was glad to be back in the lineup and help the team win.”
Truncated day of rest
Shortstop Alcides Escobar didn’t start and manager Ned Yost said before the game he planned to rest him one and maybe two days.
“He’s been grinding,” Yost said. “When you’re grinding, I’ve always felt one day’s good for the body, two days is good for the head.”
When Miguel Tejada, who started at second base, reached on a two-out error in the eighth inning, Yost called on Escobar as a pinch-runner.
“It was not a surprise, because with the game tight like that Ned told me to be ready in the seventh inning,” Escobar said. “I’m ready all the time and he told me if Salvy (Perez) got a hit, I was running for Salvy. Same thing for Miggy. I said, ‘OK, I’m running.’”
Escobar, who owns a meager .279 on-base percentage this season, immediately stole second and eventually scored the game-winning run.
“That’s a nice game — come in, steal a base, score the winning run,” Escobar said. “Great game.”
Elliot Johnson, who started at shortstop in place of Escobar, snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a one-out, seventh-inning single against A’s starter Jarrod Parker.
It was also Johnson’s first hit at Kauffman Stadium since May 26, snapping an 0-for-26 skid at home.
“I’m still hitting the ball pretty well,” Johnson said. “My first at-bat, I smoked the ball right at (A’s third baseman Josh) Donaldson. I’ve been hitting the ball, but I haven’t been getting hits.”
Johnson finished 1 for 3, but he also he also had a key eight-inning walk to load the bases with the game tied at 3-3.
Earlier in the game, Jarrod Dyson snapped an 0-for-11 with his own single through the right side.
“When I was going through my little rough patch, my head wasn’t down,” Dyson said. “I was still the same guy at the plate. I just wasn’t getting it done. Today, I locked in a little bit more and got the job done.”
Dyson later doubled and also added the game-winning infield single with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning.
Designated hitter Billy Butler went 0 for 4, though he did drive in the Royals’ first run with a third-inning groundout to third base. However, his streak of reaching base safely in 32 consecutive games was snapped.