Gordon looks to win, not 'dominate' this season
When Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said in September 2010 he intended to "dominate" in the 2011 season, the comment -- needless to say -- took virtually everyone by surprise.
It wasn't a shocker simply because Gordon was hitting a woeful .233 at the time and was perilously close to being labeled a draft bust.
Rather, what made the comment so stunning was that anyone who knows Gordon knows he's not a trash talker. They also know he'd rather have needles stuck in his eyes than talk about his own abilities.
So, for him to suddenly announce he was going to dominate seemed completely out of character.
But here's the thing: He never really meant it that way.
"That comment," he said, "kind of took on a life of its own."
It's not like Gordon got out of bed that day and decided to assemble the media at the ballpark to make a grand proclamation.
"I was at the cage during BP (batting practice), and the question came up again about how I thought I'd do the next season," he said. The word just came out. I knew I was going to work extra hard in the offseason and I thought I would definitely have a better year, but I didn't really mean (dominate)."
Well, as it turns out, Gordon did pretty much come out and dominate in 2011. He hit .303 with a team-high 23 homers and 87 RBI, even though he spent a good chunk of the season hitting leadoff. He also posted a team-high .376 on-base percentage.
Oh, and did we mention he won a Gold Glove in his first full season making the transition to left field?
Yes, we can use the word "dominate," though he won't. Not any more.
"I don't have any phrase this year," Gordon said Wednesday prior to the Royals awards luncheon at the Overland Park Convention Center. "If I do, it's just 'Win games.' That's what it's all about."
Besides, personally, Gordon thinks there is still plenty to his game that requires improvement.
"I don't want to get into the individual things," he said. "You can nitpick all day long on this stat or that stat, and you don't set out in your mind to win Gold Gloves.
"But I know I can get better. I can get better offensively (he did have a team-high 139 strikeouts), I can get better defensively and I can become a better teammate. There's always ways to get better.
"And if I can get better, then hopefully it adds up to more wins. It doesn't matter much if you're not winning."
That will be Gordon's theme in 2012: Win games.
"I'm not going to say we're going to do this and we're going to do that," he said. "It'd be easy for me to say we're going to contend or we're going to win the division or get a wild card spot. It doesn't matter until you do it. I've been here five years and we haven't done it. Until you do it ...
"Can we do it? Yes. We have a lot of good players. It was great to see a lot of new faces with great talent get that experience last year. Hopefully the fans saw that and can get excited. I'm sure we'll have more new faces this year ... But it all comes down to work. You have to put the work in."
Gordon often has credited his offseason workout program to his success in 2011. Already, that attitude seems to have permeated the clubhouse. Long-time Royals scout Art Stewart said Tuesday he can't remember a time when so many Royals major leaguers were already working out in Surprise, Arizona – a full month before pitchers and catchers report.
"Wait until you see Billy Butler," Stewart said. "Best shape I've ever seen him."
Gordon, too, is back at his workout regimen, though it isn't quite as vigorous as it was last offseason.
"I started a little later this year just because I put in a full season last year," he explained. "I needed to heal up a little. But I've been back at it lately, working with Kevin (Seitzer), and I can't wait to get down to Arizona with the warm weather and keep at it."
"Win games," he said, smiling.