MINNEAPOLIS | An injury to Chris Getz proved to be Alex Gordon’s ticket back to the big leagues prior to this afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The Royals activated Gordon from the disabled list after placing Getz on the 15-day list because of a strained right oblique muscle. Getz suffered the injury Friday night in batting practice.
“With (the injury) being where it is and what it is,” manager Trey Hillman said, “we just thought it was a smarter thing to do, earlier in the season, to make sure we get that thing healthy. That precipitated bringing Alex back.”
Gordon spent eight games in the minor leagues on a rehab assignment for a broken right thumb, suffered March 6 on a head-first slide at second base against Texas in spring training.
“I’ve still got to wear a cast,” Gordon said, “but as far as affecting me baseball-wise, it doesn’t affect me at all.”
The move continues a cross-country tour for Gordon, who didn’t arrive today until the second inning. He entered the 6-5 loss to Minnesota as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and drew a walk.
Gordon opened the season with seven games at Class A Wilmington before shifting Friday to Class AAA Omaha, which played in Albuquerque.
“It’s good to be back,” he said. “I was a little surprised when it happened because I was scheduled to play nine games down there. I had a good (first) game, and (Omaha manager Mike Jirschele) came up to me and said I was going up. I thought he was joking with me.”
Gordon hit a homer Friday in his first at-bat for the O-Royals while serving as the designated hitter and finished with three hits in four at-bats in an 8-1 victory. He was four for 17 with nine walks at Wilmington.
The Royals opted to activate Gordon rather than recall infielder Mike Aviles. Hillman confirmed he intends to use Gordon at third base and shift Alberto Callaspo from third to replace Getz at second.
“We talked about (Aviles),” Hillman said. “We still want to see Mikey get going a little bit better. He’s not necessarily swinging the bat great right now. We want to give him some more time.”
Aviles entered the day with six hits in 21 at-bats in five games since being optioned to Omaha.
Getz and club officials insist his injury isn’t serious, but the Royals had little choice in making a move because their decision to carry 13 pitchers leaves them with a shortened bench.
“We were hopeful, and still are, that Chris will be ready sooner than later,” Hillman said. “But as we evaluated it (Friday) night and got more information, it could have been five or maybe six days rather than the hopeful two or three.”
That was too long to go with a bench consisting solely of catcher Brayan Peña and Mitch Maier.
“It’s not that bad,” Getz said. “It really isn’t. I just felt a pull, and I didn’t push it.”
Getz felt some discomfort Wednesday in Detroit on a dive back to first on a pickoff play. His right side remained stiff through Thursday’s open date before feeling a pull Friday in batting practice.
The move is retroactive to Wednesday, which allows Getz to be reinstated April 30.
Shopping for help
Rumors continue to swirl regarding the Royals’ struggling bullpen with the focus centering on efforts to unload veterans Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth even at the cost of eating their remaining salaries.
Both are under contract though the end of the season: Farnsworth for $5 million; Cruz for $3.75 million.
Man in iron mask
Catcher Jason Kendall started again today despite it being a day game after a night game -- a situation that often prompts managers to rest veteran players. Kendall has started all 11 games this season.
“I just continue to look at what he’s doing in the games,” Hillman said, “how he’s moving around and what he’s asked to do.”
Kendall is the only catcher this season to start all of his team’s games. He also has hits in all 11 games after going one for three in today’s 6-5 loss to the Twins.
Today was also Kendall’s 1,919th career game as a catcher, which ties Brad Ausmus and Al Lopes for seventh place on baseball’s all-time list. Next up is former Royal Jim Sundberg at 1,927. Washington’s Pudge Rodriguez is the all-time at 2,295 through Friday.
Class A Wilmington lefty Mike Montgomery, the organization’s pitcher of the year in 2009, tops Baseball America’s first 2010 Prospect Hot Sheet, which seeks to identify which prospects are currently outperforming their peers. This Sheet covers the span from April 8-15.
“There aren’t a lot of 20-year-old lefties who can throw a lively fastball that sits at 92-93 mph and then run it up to 95 when they need it,” the online ranking praised. “There are even fewer who can control the pitch.
“But if you are looking for the biggest explanation why Montgomery’s 1-0, 0.75 with an .098 opponent average this year, it’s the development of his secondary stuff.”
Montgomery was the only Royals’ prospect cited in the listing of 13 prospects, although Wilmington first baseman Eric Hosmer was one of seven cited as being “in the team photo.”
Class A Burlington got a two-out double by Hilton Richardson in the ninth inning Friday to avoid suffering a no-hitter in a 9-0 loss to Wisconsin.
It was 32 years ago Sunday -- April 18, 1978 -- that Amos Otis hit the first grand slam of his career in a 5-0 victory at Toronto. The slam came in the first inning against Dave Lemanczyk at Exhibition Stadium and provided Paul Splittorff with an early cushion.
Splittorff pitched a five-hit shutout and improved to 3-0.
First baseman Billy Butler, a Royal since age 18, turns 24 Sunday.
The Twins played Saturday’s game with a shortened bullpen. José Mijares was placed on the disabled list because of a strained left elbow, and Pat Neshek was unavailable after getting a cortisone shot in his hand. Alex Burnett is expected to arrive Sunday to replace Mijares.
The Royals have won just once in their last 11 games against the Twins.
Rick Ankiel recorded the fourth multi-homer game of his career. His last one, prior to Saturday, was June 25, 2008 for St. Louis at Detroit.
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt went one for three with a sacrifice bunt. He is 10 for 20 in his last five games, which has raised his average to .325.