OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Gordon says he is ready for the big leagues.
Gordon was to leave for the Kansas City Royals’ spring training camp on Wednesday night with his sights set on making the opening day roster.
“Every player thinks he’s ready. You don’t know until you get up there and get out on the field and start playing,” Gordon said. “Mentally and physically, I think I’m ready to go.”
Gordon’s arrival is much anticipated by fans of a moribund franchise that has lost 100 games four of the past five years.
The former Nebraska star was the main attraction at Wednesday’s Royals Caravan luncheon. The annual event drew about 160 fans, twice the usual crowd.
After being drafted second overall in 2005, Gordon batted .325 with 29 home runs and 101 RBIs last season for Double-A Wichita. He was named minor league player of the year by Baseball America.
Frank White, who managed Gordon in Wichita, said his “guess” is that Gordon would start the season in Kansas City.
“Based on what he’s done last year, based on spring training last year, and if he has another spring like he did last year, I think he deserves a shot at being in the major leagues,” White said.
When he gets to Kansas City, whether it’s sooner or later, he’ll surely face comparisons to Royals’ great George Brett.
Like Brett, Gordon is a blond-haired third baseman who bats left-handed. When Gordon was growing up in Lincoln, Brett was his and his family’s favorite player. In fact, Gordon has a brother named Brett.
Even White, who played in the same infield with Brett from 1973-90, mentions the two in the same breath. White, who left Wichita to take a job in the Royals’ front office, said Gordon, like Brett, eventually will become a fixture at third base.
White said Gordon already is as mentally tough as Brett.
“He’s a guy who wants to succeed, a guy who hates to make outs. Yeah, I think they’re pretty close in that realm,” White said.
Gordon tries to stave off the Brett talk.
“I can’t compare myself to George Brett,” Gordon said. “He’s a Hall-of-Famer. He’s a legend. I’m just a Double-A player.”
Maybe not for long.
The question is whether Gordon will start out at third base or in the outfield. Mark Teahen played third last season and was the team’s player of the year after hitting .290 with 18 home runs.
The Royals are considering moving Teahen to right field to make room for Gordon or having Gordon play outfield. Gordon isn’t picky about his position.
“I just want to hit,” he said. “I want to be on the ballclub and help the team out anyway I can. If that takes playing the outfield, I’m all for it.”
He said he shagged a few flies during batting practice last season but otherwise hasn’t played the outfield since his freshman year of high school.
“I made a couple diving catches, so I felt pretty good out there,” he said, smiling. “I like to think I’m a pretty decent athlete, that I can make that transition.”
Gordon said it’s an exciting time to be in the Royals organization. General Manager Dayton Moore has shown a willingness to spend money. He gave pitcher Gil Meche a five-year, $55 million contract. But Moore also has shown a commitment to developing talent in the farm system.
Though Gordon’s first choice is to start the year in Kansas City, he said he wouldn’t be devastated if he had to stop at Triple-A Omaha on the way up. His hometown is 50 miles away, and he played at Rosenblatt Stadium in the College World Series.
“I’ve been thinking about maybe skipping Omaha,” he said. “But in a way, I kind of wanted to experience it and be close to home and play in Rosenblatt another time. If Omaha comes calling, I won’t be too disappointed.”