Alex Gordon hasn’t done a whole lot since the Royals recalled him from the minors in mid-July, hitting .233/.323/.375 in 52 games, but he’s drawn some walks, shown some power, and most importantly is finally getting another chance to play regularly after destroying Triple-A pitching.
Gordon will turn 27 years old this winter, so the former college player of the year and No. 2 overall pick is rapidly approaching “put up or shut up” time given his .247/.330/.408 career line in 1,601 plate appearances as a big leaguer.
And he’s certainly talking a good game about his plans for 2011, telling Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he’s “going to dominate next year.”
Here’s more from Gordon:
Not that this year is over, but I’m going to dominate next year. I’ve shown flashes, but something that’s bothered me is I haven’t been consistent. I show flashes, and then I go into a little bit of a slump that kind of erases what I did. I just need to figure out how to be consistent and put it all together throughout the year. I feel comfortable in left field. I was struggling at third [base], and it was taking too much out of me. My numbers aren’t where I want them to be. I’m not producing like I want to produce. But I’m feeling good out there, and I think it’s going to come around.
Gordon is never going to live up to the tremendous hype he had as a college star or top-ranked prospect, but I remain convinced that he can be a very solid big-league hitter. I’m not quite as confident about that happening in Kansas City, because the Royals sent him to the minors at age 26 and only recalled him when he put up ridiculous numbers for three months at Triple-A.
With that said, general manager Dayton Moore talked to Dutton about Gordon and indicated that perhaps they have a bit more faith in him than I believed:
I think Alex is going to have a great year next year. I really do. I think Alex is going to be a solid contributor. I’ll say this: You can win a championship with Alex Gordon on your club. We’re counting on him to be that type of guy when we’re ready to win.
I still think there’s a pretty good chance the Royals trade Gordon this offseason, but if he does remain in Kansas City at least it now sounds like he’ll do so as an everyday player in 2011. And after that, if Gordon fails to produce, then he sank on his own.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.