Alex Gordon appeared for a brief second, slipping through the visitors clubhouse at Target Field on Monday afternoon, a heavy black brace covering his right wrist.
The Royals' left fielder wore blue mesh shorts and a light blue cut-off T-shirt. He wore the same stoic expression that has defined his time in Kansas City. Moments later, he disappeared into a back hallway.
One day earlier, Gordon had stood in a clubhouse in Chicago and expressed hope that his right wrist was only sprained, that the aftereffects from a violent collision with third baseman Mike Moustakas in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the White Sox would linger for a couple days and then be gone. Monday in Minneapolis, that hope disappeared after tests revealed a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist.
Gordon sustained a “nondisplaced” fracture and be out three to four weeks, Royals manager Ned Yost said. The injury will not require surgery, but Gordon was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday evening. He will be re-evaluated in 10 days, which could alter the recovery timetable.
“We’re looking at three to four weeks,” Yost said.
The injury came on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, during a high-speed collision with Moustakas in the seventh inning of a series finale against the White Sox. Gordon and Moustakas were both sprinting after a shallow pop fly in foul territory. As Moustakas retreated, he did not see Gordon, clipping the left fielder during a knee-to-knee collision. Both players went spinning toward the ground. Gordon jammed his right hand onto the dirt while hitting his head on a rolled-up tarp.
“Pretty brutal,” Moustakas said. “Gordo came in; I saw him a little late. I kind of jumped out of the way, and his knee clipped mine.”
While Gordon was initially diagnosed with a sprain, Moustakas suffered a contusion on the outside of his right knee. He was a late scratch for Monday’s series opener against Minnesota. His status was listed as day to day.
To fill Gordon’s roster spot and provide cover for Moustakas, the Royals recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert, who was optioned back to Class AAA Omaha on Saturday after Moustakas returned from the 15-day disabled list. Yost said Cuthbert could be utilized at both third base and second base while back on the 25-man roster.
With Gordon out until at least mid June, Yost said the Royals would move forward with Jarrod Dyson, Paulo Orlando and Whit Merrifield seeing additional time in the outfield. On Monday, Dyson started in left field while Orlando occupied right. Merrifield, a utility man who made his major-league debut last Wednesday, can play all three outfield positions.
“Dyson and Orlando have been swinging the bat really well,” Yost said. “So we’ll just ride that. You have Merrifield who can play out there.”
For Gordon, 32, the wrist injury comes just six months after he signed a four-year, $72 million free-agent deal to remain in a Royals uniform. The contract was the largest in franchise history, awarded to a cornerstone player who was present for the Royals’ transformation from perennial losers to World Series champions.
For Gordon, it is also his second significant injury in the last 12 months. Last July, Gordon suffered a Grade 2-plus strain in his left groin, missing nearly two months before returning to the big leagues on Sept. 1. By October, he was close to full strength, his game-tying homer in Game 1 of the World Series helping propel the Royals to a victory over the New York Mets in five games.
Six months later, in the first season of a new contract, his bat had yet to heat up. After collecting two hits during a series victory in Chicago, Gordon is batting just .211 with a .319 on-base percentage and four home runs. In 42 games, Gordon had just nine extra-base hits, his slugging percentage (.331) dipping more than 100 points below his career average.
Still, the Royals must re-adjust to life without Gordon, owner of four Gold Gloves and three straight All-Star appearances, a silent and unshakable presence in the clubhouse.
On Sunday, the Royals, too, were hopeful that Gordon’s wrist injury would be limited to a sprain. But when the team plane landed in Minneapolis on Sunday evening, Gordon was already experiencing added discomfort.
“It was alright after the game,” Yost said. “But when we flew and he landed, it was really, really sore. So they set him up for a CT scan and an MRI” Monday.
The tests showed a fracture in the scaphoid bone, a carpal bone on the thumb side of the wrist. The prognosis could have been worse. Because the fracture was nondisplaced — meaning the bone fragments still lined up correctly — Gordon will not need to undergo surgery. As a result, he could be back in three to four weeks, Yost said.
“The good news is it’s nondisplaced, nonsurgical,” Yost said. “So we’re looking at three to four weeks with him.”