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Matheny appreciates Royals' veteran leadership

Skipper values what Perez, Gordon bring to clubhouse
@FlannyMLB
February 10, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- New Royals manager Mike Matheny understands he will be under the microscope this season, inside and outside the clubhouse. After an unpleasant ending to his first term as a manager with St. Louis, Matheny was somewhat of a surprise choice to guide the Royals through their next

KANSAS CITY -- New Royals manager Mike Matheny understands he will be under the microscope this season, inside and outside the clubhouse.

After an unpleasant ending to his first term as a manager with St. Louis, Matheny was somewhat of a surprise choice to guide the Royals through their next phase of development, at least to national observers.

But Matheny fully admits he will be aided during this transition by the return of two veterans to the clubhouse: Catcher Salvador Perez and left fielder Alex Gordon, both former All-Stars and Gold Glovers who command attention among their teammates.

Perez is coming back after missing all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Gordon was a free-agent for a few months before returning to the Royals last month on a one-year deal.

The leadership qualities of both Perez and Gordon are a manager’s dream.

“The offensive numbers with Salvy, you’d want in any lineup,” Matheny, who was a catcher during his playing days, said recently. “His defensive presence you’d want in any lineup. The leadership in the clubhouse is priceless. Plus, I think the guy just brings an infectious quality throughout the ballpark. I always had great admiration for how he could play that position and smile and have fun. I could never figure that out [in my career].

“He does it so naturally. It endears the fans to him.”

Matheny has the same enthusiasm for Gordon’s return. He met with Gordon and his wife, Jamie, last fall after Gordon became a free-agent.

“It’s one of the best stories in baseball this year that this guy wanted to stick around,” Matheny said. “We all wanted to see that happen. I know [Royals chairman and CEO John] Sherman and [Sr. VP of baseball operations and GM] Dayton [Moore] and I want to create an atmosphere here that everyone can’t wait to play here and never want to leave. It’s easy to talk about that, but there are plenty of outside influences that can pull you elsewhere and make you think about playing elsewhere.

“But I think this says a lot about Alex the man, the fan base and the community. Everyone had the same heartbeat. It’s a great day for us.”

Matheny recalled what an eventful meeting it was with Gordon last fall.

“We also hung out with George Brett that evening,” Matheny said, smiling. “Hanging out with George and Alex -- that’s a pretty good day.

“We need Alex in the community and in Kansas City. But more than anything, we need him in that clubhouse. You’re talking about a guy who just won a Gold Glove and put up a great year.

“It’s just about knowing you’re wanted. It’s not often in life we know we’re wanted. But I think Alex saw that with the Royals and with Kansas City, that he is wanted here.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.