Alex Gordon’s brief stop for a rehab assignment at Class AA Northwest Arkansas proved as productive off the field as it was on it.
Gordon, a three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove-winning left fielder, returned to the Royals’ clubhouse for the first time in a week Saturday rocking a white bandana and a throwback Space Jam jersey.
The titanium white jersey emblazoned on the back with “Jordan No. 23” and bearing the ToonSquad logo on the front belonged to Class AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals outfielder Logan Moon — a Blue Springs South graduate, who the Royals drafted in the sixth round out of Missouri Southern in 2014.
“I traded him a couple bats for a jersey,” Gordon said. “I was a big fan of it. … I think it was a pretty fair tradeoff, (but) I think I got the best of it.”
As expected, the Royals reinstated Gordon from the 15-day disabled list before Saturday’s game against the Astros. He started in left field and batted second.
Gordon, 32, went 8 for 22 — a .364 average — with a double, home run, three runs scored, five walks and five RBIs in six minor league games, the first four with Northwest Arkansas and two more at Class AAA Omaha.
“I had no issues down there rehabbing six games,” Gordon said. “My wrist was good. It was good to get 20, 25 at-bats. You think rehab’s all about feeling healthy, but it’s also getting your timing back and game situations and getting in game shape. … My timing was great. I was seeing the ball good. My swing actually felt good this year, so that was a plus.”
To make on the active roster for Gordon’s return, outfielder Brett Eibner was optioned to Omaha.
Gordon has been out since May 22 when he suffered a broken scaphoid bone in his right wrist during a collision with Mike Moustakas, who tore his right ACL on the play and is out for the season.
Through 42 games this season, Gordon, who signed a four-year deal worth a club-record $72 million in the offseason, had struggled before the injury. He was batting .211 with a career-low 75 OPS-plus, nine extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.
Eibner appeared in 11 games during Gordon’s absence. He batted .297 with five doubles, a home run and seven RBIs.
Yost said Royals fans probably haven’t seen the last of Eibner this season.
“We didn’t want him just sitting around,” Yost said. “With Gordy back now and with Whit’s versatility, it doesn’t make sense for him just to sit the bench. … We want to keep him sharp and keep him playing.”
With Gordon’s return, he would have been the fifth outfielder on a roster that also has second baseman Whit Merrifield, who’s capable of playing the outfield if needed.
That made Eibner the odd man out.
The Royals also announced that right-hander Kris Medlen’s rehab has been transferred to Omaha. He was scheduled to start for the Storm Chasers on Saturday night in Nashville.
Medlen went on the 15-day disabled list May 12 with inflammation in the rotator cuff of his pitching shoulder. He was 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in six starts before the injury.
During two appearances with the Naturals, Medlen was 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA, allowing four runs on nine hits with two walks against eight strikeouts in five innings.