SURPRISE, Ariz. | Even Alex Gordon realizes he deserves this latest setback, at least partially, because he chose to slide head-first into second base Saturday on an attempted steal.
That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
“I’m pretty tired today,” Gordon said quietly this morning as he stood in front of his locker in the Royals’ clubhouse at Surprise Stadium. “I didn’t get much sleep. Coming off the injury and now having this sucks.”
Gordon broke his right thumb on the play -- technically a minimally displaced fracture. Recovery time is initially pegged at three to four weeks for a return to full baseball activities.
“It’s unfortunate because it didn’t have to happen,” manager Trey Hillman said. “It’s a well-documented fact that more injuries on the basepaths happen from sliding head-first than any other way. Unfortunately, we’ve got another example of it.”
Gordon acknowledged he’ll “probably stop (sliding head-first) from now on.”
Today was a day of depressing medical news as the Royals generally milled around until learning rain had forced cancellation of their home game against San Francisco.
Left-hander Danny Duffy, one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, is experiencing elbow stiffness and, as a result, isn’t likely to pitch this spring in any big-league games.
Duffy’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, but club officials also revealed minor-league infielder Jeff Bianchi, a second-round pick in the 2005 draft, will undergo reconstructive elbow surgery and miss the season.
Gordon’s mishap creates a lineup opening at third base for Alberto Callaspo, a switch-hitter who batted .300 last season but lost his job at second base because newcomer Chris Getz has greater defensive skills.
“We said all along that we wanted to look for Alberto at-bats,” Hillman said. “I like him at third, but I didn’t necessarily like him at third and Alex out of the mix.”
Hillman indicated Josh Fields, acquired with Getz in a trade with the White Sox, will also see time at third base.
“He’s a natural third baseman,” Hillman said. “It really ups the ante of (Callaspo and Fields) getting the majority of the reps at third base. And Josh, we’ll take a look at him at first base. We’ll see where it goes.”
The injury marks another discouraging setback for Gordon, who missed three months last season after suffering a labral tear in his right hip on opening day. He struggled after returning in July and eventually spent three weeks in the minor leagues.
“I just asked (the doctor) what I can do to make (the thumb) better,” Gordon said. “They said you can’t rush time on a broken bone. You just ice it and rest. But anything I can do stay in baseball shape and stay ready to go, I’m going to do.”
Gordon’s injury occurred when his right thumb jammed into the left foot of Texas second baseman Joaquin Arias in the second inning of Saturday’s game. Gordon reacted immediately to the collision but remained in the game through the fifth inning.
“I could feel it,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to be hurt. I just didn’t want to know the truth, I guess. After the game, they did an X-ray and found out the tip of it was broken.”
The injury severely limits Gordon’s preparation because it is on his throwing hand. He can do conditioning work and continue to field ground balls in workouts but will not be able to swing a bat or make throws.
It is also likely Gordon will require a week or more to regain his timing once cleared to return to action. That pushes his timetable past the April 5 season opener against Detroit at Kauffman Stadium.
“We’ve got enough depth and versatility to cover (in Gordon’s absence),” general manager Dayton Moore said, “but you hate to see your players (injured), especially Alex, who has missed so much time, miss even more time.
“But it’s part of the game. You’ve got to adjust and move on. He’ll do everything he can to heal and get back out there. We know that. In the meantime, other guys will get opportunities.”