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Cooper
09-20-2009, 05:35 PM
Gordon ready to put injury-plagued '09 behind him


CHICAGO -- Alex Gordon entered 2009 ready to make his third big league season with the Royals a memorable one.

Instead, it became a tumultuous, disappointing, injury-filled year to forget.

Now, with just two weeks remaining in the regular season, Kansas City's third baseman of the present and future finally has an opportunity to put his struggles behind him and build toward 2010.

"I'm just trying to finish up the season strong," Gordon said. "It's been a disappointing year. I mean, anybody would know that. Coming in, I felt great. I felt good at the plate, good in the field, and then the injury kind of put some brakes to that."

Gordon has played in just 38 games this season, the result of a tear he suffered in his right hip labral cartilage on a home run swing on Opening Day against the White Sox. He played in six more games before the pain became too much and surgery was required. Gordon went on the disabled list on April 16 and did not return to the club until July 17.

And even when he rejoined the Royals in July, it was clear from Gordon's movements in the field that he had not fully recovered from the hip surgery, prompting the organization to send him down on Aug. 18 to Triple-A Omaha for 17 games.

At the time, Gordon was hitting .198 with three home runs and 11 RBIs.

For a player with two Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year honors in high school and two First Team All-America honors in college, it was not the type of season that he expected for himself.

In fact, the 25-year-old Gordon called 2009 the most disappointing of his career.

"Oh yeah," Gordon said. "For sure. Just because going into it, I was feeling really good about it. And looking back now, I would have never thought it would have went like this. But it is what it is. I'm not making any excuses. It was a down year and I didn't play good."

Gordon has been doing his best to break away from that down year of late.

In his 17 games with Omaha, Gordon batted .313 (20-for-64) with two home runs, a triple and four doubles, collecting 10 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

In his first nine Major League games since his return, Gordon tallied hits in seven games, going 8-for-28 (.286). In the process, Gordon raised his season average from .198 to .218.

Gordon credited Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer for the improvement in Kansas City.

"There's a few things we're working on, but I'm more comfortable every game," Gordon said. "It's good to get some type of a routine in there, get some at-bats and maybe I'll get a couple hits here and there."

Gordon, who started games each of the past five days, was not in the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox.

"He's not hurt," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "But I think there's still a weakness in there just from his hip situation that we've got to continue to monitor and give him some time."

Hillman said he has continued to notice that Gordon struggles defensively with his hip when he crouches into the ready position before a pitch.

"I think a lot of it does have to do with his hip isn't as strong as it should be when it's full strength, and I think that's only natural," Hillman said.

Gordon said he would use this winter to fully recover from the hip injury that has dogged him all season.

And if there are any positives that he can take from the most disappointing baseball season of his career, at least Gordon now knows how to deal with a major injury and handle adversity.

"That's really the first time I've ever had an injury that has kept me out throughout the year," Gordon said. "I know, coming into this offseason, my main focus is to get back in shape, back to where I was. But first and foremost is getting healthy, because that's the most important thing, and I see that now. That's really one of the main goals."

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.