Mallex Smith
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Mallex Smith hospitalized with viral infection

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Rays outfielder Mallex Smith has been hospitalized with a viral infection, the team announced Friday night. While the precise nature of the infection has not been reported, manager Kevin Cash told reporters that he doesn’t believe it’s indicative of anything serious — that is, anything severe enough to be deemed life-threatening or season-ending.

Still, the fact that Smith landed in the hospital at all is cause for some alarm, and the Rays swiftly reassigned him to the 10-day disabled list for a still-to-be-determined recovery period. The 25-year-old outfielder is in the middle of his best season to date after slashing .307/.377/.433 at the plate with 27 stolen bases and 3.1 fWAR through 426 plate appearances. This figures to be his first stint on the DL all year.

A corresponding move won’t be announced until Saturday, though Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that either right-handed reliever Andrew Kittredge or outfield prospect Austin Meadows could get the nod in Smith’s place. Kittredge, 28, posted an impressive 2.74 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 through 46 innings in Triple-A Durham this season. Meadows, meanwhile, is chugging along with a .316/.369/.671 batting line and six home runs since he came over from the Pirates at the trade deadline.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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