Gordon set to bat third for KC in '19

February 28th, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost is debating this spring whether to keep Whit Merrifield in the leadoff spot and Adalberto Mondesi hitting second this season or flip them around to take advantage of Mondesi’s switch-hitting power in the top spot.

But what is not up for debate is that left fielder Alex Gordon will hit third, where he flourished in a 22-game stretch last September.

There’s no hiding the offensive struggles that have gripped Gordon, who is in the final year of his four-year, $72 million deal, in recent years. He has hit .220, .208 and .245, respectively, the past three seasons.

But Gordon, who turned 35 earlier this month, seemed to find new life hitting behind Merrifield and Mondesi. Gordon hit .274 with an .807 OPS from the three hole, delivering 18 RBIs in those 22 games.

Yost said moving Gordon to the No. 3 spot was simply a reward.

“At that time, I know he likes hitting there, and at that point, he was willing to make some adjustments, so I was throwing him a bone,” Yost said. “He made some adjustments we were trying to get him to make.”

Gordon confirmed that scenario.

“The adjustment was that I was going to stand straight up more and put my hands in a better position,” Gordon said. “I started driving the ball the other way much more. I think that’s what they were talking about.

“I had been trying to do it for a while, but I couldn’t quite get to it. But then I got comfortable with it. I just found it. My bat was staying in the zone a lot longer.”

Gordon is pleased to hear he’ll be hitting third again.

“I love it,” Gordon said. “I love hitting third. Third is my favorite spot. Hitting first is probably my second favorite. I don’t like hitting second -- has to be first or third.”

A big reason, too, for Gordon’s resurgence in the three hole was all the speed in front of him with Merrifield and Mondesi -- speed that certainly serves as a distraction for pitchers.

“Big part was Whit and Mondi,” Gordon said. “But I got into a good place mentally. Even when I was making outs, I was hitting the ball hard. It was the most comfortable I’ve been in a long time.”

Even through the hard times, though, Yost always stood by Gordon, a six-time Gold Glover.

“Alex struggled offensively for quite a while,” Yost said. “But I always felt like once he got going, he’d be fine. I never felt like it was gone. I felt like it was still in there for him. I never felt like, ‘Oh, he can play defense, but he can’t hit anymore.’ We saw at the end of the season he can still hit.”