If there’s anyone well-versed in what it takes to rebuild a team, it’s Royals outfielder Alex Gordon.
But when he addressed reporters for the first time this spring on Tuesday — his arrival to training camp was delayed because of his father’s death last week — Gordon balked at the term.
He joined the organization in 2005, just prior to general manager Dayton Moore’s arrival the following year. Gordon debuted in 2007, watched the Royals draft Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland and Eric Hosmer, and with them delivered Kansas City its second World Series trophy.
For the first 10 years of his tenure, he was on the ground level of the Royals’ renaissance, maybe to a larger extent than anyone else in the organization can claim.
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Gordon, 34, has seen this version of the Royals already. He’s seen them restock and retool the team since he was a 21-year-old fresh out of Nebraska.
As much as the departure of those teammates weighed on his mind this winter, he was too focused on the future of the Royals to worry much about the impending overhaul.
“It’s time to move on and time to start a new era,” Gordon said.
Part of that new era happens to include a young crop of outfielders that will require his full attention.
“Everyone keeps talking about rebuild and not being able to win and whatnot,” Gordon said. “But as a player, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not gonna do well. So if we don’t believe this team is good enough to win as a collective group, then obviously we’re not gonna win. So hopefully we can develop that as not a rebuild in this clubhouse this spring, but know that we can compete and we’re gonna play hard, and that’s the key. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
Gordon is in the third season of a four-year, $72 million contract, which he signed after stringing together three consecutive All-Star seasons and winning four Gold Gloves in five years. In the two seasons since, Gordon has hit .214 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .649. He’s driven in 85 runs.
His batting average ranks 44th among qualified major-league outfielders in that span, according to Fangraphs.
Once again in position to inspire a new generation of Royals, Gordon will need to reverse this trend.
And he’s well aware of it.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys with a lot of talent,” Gordon said. “Me and a couple of other guys are here to guide them and hopefully get them to where guys like Hosmer and Moose are. They started at this point and look what they did. These guys are capable of doing that, and hopefully we can.”