Injured third baseman Alex Gordon began easing himself back into on-field activities Friday after a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination showed definite healing in his torn right hip flexor muscle.
Gordon played catch with teammate Jason Smith and took some straight-on ground balls before doing some stretches and sprints. Barring a setback, he should begin taking some soft swings before tonight’s game.
“It felt good,” Gordon said. “I’ve never been on the DL, so I don’t know what to expect. I’m just taking it one day at a time, but I’m hoping to be back at some point on the next road trip.”
Club officials are more cautious and suggest Gordon is more likely to return for the season’s final homestand, which begins Sept. 15.
“He was froggy to get out and do something,” manager Trey Hillman said. “So we let him take some controlled ground balls. No exchange with the footwork. We don’t want to do anything too fast. We want to give him a chance to get acclimated back out there.”
Gordon suffered the injury Aug. 21 in Cleveland when making an off-balance throw after making a charging pickup of a slow grounder. He is batting .254 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs in 122 games.
“They said the MRI was good,” he said. “The first couple of days I felt it. I had a little bit of limp to me. But after doing all of the rehab, it feels a lot better.” Ka’aihue in lineup
First baseman Kila Ka’aihue went one for four in his first big-league start. His one-out single in the seventh inning contributed to a three-run burst.
Hillman said he plans to platoon Ka’aihue and Ryan Shealy at first base over the season’s remaining games. Ka’aihue made his debut Thursday as a pinch-runner in the second game of a double-header against Oakland.
Ka’aihue created a buzz this season within the organization by hitting 37 homers and driving in 100 runs while batting .314 in 124 games at Class AAA Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Baseball America selected Ka’aihue as the designated hitter on its minor-league All-Star team. Class A Burlington third baseman Mike Moustakas was the picked to the second team.
Hosmer to Arizona?
The Royals are hoping the contract issues surrounding first baseman Eric Hosmer, their first-round pick in the June draft, are resolved in time for him to participate in the Arizona Instructional League.
Hosmer remains in limbo as a result of a grievance filed by the players’ union regarding Pittsburgh negotiations with its first-round pick, third baseman Pedro Alvarez. The central issue is whether the two players agreed to terms prior to the 11 p.m. deadline on Aug. 15.
Hosmer played three games at short-season Idaho Falls before the Commissioner’s Office intervened once the grievance was filed. A hearing by an arbitrator is scheduled for Wednesday, although there is no set date for a ruling.
The Royals list Hosmer as one of 59 players on their Instructional League roster. The program runs from Sept. 22 through Oct. 17. The roster:
Pitchers (22): Juan Abreu, Willian Avinizar, Henry Barrera, Geronimo Batista, Greg Billo, Carson Bryant, Carlos Fortuna, Santiago Garrido, Pernell Halliman, Blaine Hardy, Keaton Hayenga, Chase Hentges, Mitch Hodge, Ivor Hodgson, Tim Melville, Leondy Perez, Brett Richardson, Freddy Rodriguez, Jacob Rodriguez, Sam Runion, Derrick Saito, Brandon Sisk and Aneidy Toribio.
Catchers (8): Jose Bonilla, Edul Escobar, Travis Jones, Maricio Matos, Sean McCauley, Henry Moreno, Salvador Perez and Josh Vittek.
Infielders (16): John Alfaro, Geulin Beltre, Fernando Cruz, Malcom Culver, Yowill Espinal, Yunior Figueroa, Angel Franco, Fernando Garcia, Johnny Giavotella, Eric Hosmer, Antonio Jimenez, Jacob Kuebler, Adrian Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Juan Rivera and Jason Taylor.
Outfielders (13): Julio Aparicio, Jerico Blanco, Luis Del Rosario, Jarrod Dyson, Nick Francis, Shawn Griffin, Alex Llanos, David Lough, Patrick Norris, Paulo Orlando, Adrian Ortiz, Hilton Richardson and Derrick Robinson.
Viva Los Royals
Tonight is Viva Los Royals Hispanic Heritage Night at Kauffman Stadium. The first 20,000 fans through the gates receive a Tony Peña bobblehead doll.
There is also a pre-game concert featuring Christian Castro that starts around 4 p.m. just inside Gate A.
Bol in Buck’s seat
Ex-NBA star Manute Bol occupied the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat for Friday’s game in recognition of his extensive charity work in his native Sudan. He has contributed an estimated $3.5 million in aid to Sudanese refugees.
“For them to have me come here,” he said, “that means a lot. As soon as they called me, I said, `Yes, I’ll come.’”
Bol now lives in Olathe. He played for three NBA teams from 1985-94.
Class AA Northwest Arkansas finds itself on the brink in the Texas League playoffs after Friday’s 6-4 loss at Arkansas. The Naturals trail 2-0 in the best-of-five series, which continues tonight.
Class A Wilmington was eliminated Friday from the Carolina League playoffs. Potomac capped a three-game sweep in the best-of-five series with a 1-0 victory.
Class A Burlington provided the only good news with a 9-6 victory at Kane County that clinched their best-of-three series in the Midwest League. Clint Robinson went three for five with three RBIs.
•Today is Mark Teahen’s 27th birthday. Teahen was selected earlier this week as club’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a player who demonstrates outstanding on-field skills and a commitment to community service.
•Class AAA Omaha manager Mike Jirschele has joined the coaching staff for the remainder of the season.
•The Royals are 3-1 in September after Friday’s loss. They haven’t had a winning September since going 13-11 in 1996.
•Zack Greinke’s 159 strikeouts rank fifth in the American League and are already the most by a Royals pitcher since Kevin Appier had 196 in 1997.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.