KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Back in January, Alex Gordon signed a four-year, $72 million contract to remain with the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals, who entertain the Chicago White Sox in a series finale Thursday, are certainly not getting their money’s worth this season from the four-time Gold Glove winner and three-time All-Star.
Gordon, 32, is hitting .203 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 82 games, having struck out 95 times in 281 at-bats. His double Wednesday was his second extra-base hit in 16 games.
"You know guys have good years and you know guys have bad years," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "In my mind, Alex is going to have a really, really good year next year. We know what type of player he is. We know what type of work ethic he has. He never quits. He’s continuing to work.
"He’s continuing to stay strong in his conditioning routine and his work ethic. It’s just one of those years where it’s been a struggle for him."
Yost said he is unable to detect in Gordon’s demeanor what kind of season the outfielder is having.
"He’s hard to read," Yost said. "He’s just very businesslike in everything that he does. And you can’t tell if he’s gone 10 for 10 or 0 for 20."
Gordon missed more than a month with a fractured right wrist after a May 22 collision with third baseman Mike Moustakas, who sustained a season-ending knee injury on the play.
Is the injury contributing to Gordon’s poor offensive year?
"He was having a down year before he got hurt," Yost said. "It’s just one of those crazy, weird years for him."
Gordon at least pulled his batting average back over .200 on Wednesday, when he went 2 for 5 in the Royals’ 3-2, 14-inning win over Chicago.
The White Sox have alternated losses with wins over the past seven games. They began the season 23-10, a run that third baseman Todd Frazier said the club could duplicate.
"We still have an opportunity to be in it," Frazier said regarding a postseason berth. "I know nobody’s giving up right now. We go in there and do that 23-10 stretch, we’ll have a bigger opportunity, starting now. I think we have a big run in us. I still believe that a lot. I still believe that we do. Just got to keep fighting and find ways to win games."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura keeps his view more focused on game-to-game issues than Frazier’s extended-run picture.
"I keep it small," Ventura said. "They can look as big as they want. But for us, we look at how we’re getting through this series, how you’re matching up with those guys. Injuries take on a certain part of it, but we have some guys that are untested with some of it, so you don’t really know what you’re going to get.
"I like where his head’s at, the way they’re thinking. Again, we’re going to match up with who we’ve got and go get ’em, but I like the fact that we have that feeling, that he does."
The White Sox will start right-hander Miguel Gonzalez in the series finale. Gonzalez is 2-6 with a 4.09 ERA in 18 games, 17 of them starts. He is coming off a loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, when he allowed four runs (three earned) on 10 hits over six innings.
Gonzalez is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts against the Royals this season. Jarrod Dyson is 8 for 10 off Gonzalez, while Gordon is 1 for 10 against him.
The Royals will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy, who is 8-1 with a 2.97 ERA. He has won his past seven decisions.
Duffy is 4-0 in nine starts this season at Kauffman Stadium, where he has not lost since Sept. 5, 2015, against the White Sox.
In three starts vs. Chicago this year, Duffy is 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA. On June 3 at U.S. Cellular Field, he threw six shutout innings of three-hit ball, striking out 10 and walking three in a 4-1 win.