Royals tab Gordon as third baseman

Royals tab Gordon as third baseman

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was not really a surprise from Surprise, but the Royals made it official on Wednesday that Alex Gordon would be their starting third baseman when the season opens.

It was, however, somewhat of a surprise when manager Buddy Bell said Gordon would likely bat fifth behind Mark Teahen and Mike Sweeney.

"Early in spring, I was probably leaning more towards the bottom of the lineup, but right now, he is inching closer to the fifth spot," Bell said. "I don't know that for sure, but right now, I don't see why not. He looks OK there. I don't think there are a whole lot of things that affect the kid. That's one reason why he is probably such a good player at this point, so early in his career."

Bell informed Gordon before the Royals' 11-10 loss to the Athletics that he was the starting third baseman.

"I'm sure it's a relief for him," Bell said. "He certainly deserves it."

Gordon entered the game with a .622 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage.

"Good news," Gordon said. "I'm very happy. Everybody comes in here trying to make the team. I was just glad I was given the chance to win that job and I'm glad I won it."

Gordon celebrated the announcement by going 2-for-4 with doubles in his first two at-bats to raise his average to .390. He also drove in three runs, hiking his RBI total to nine in 16 games. He is hitting .457 in his past 15 games.

"I just came in here, worked hard and tried to impress them and help the team out," Gordon said. "I did an OK job of doing it."

OK is being modest. While there are still 10 games left before the season begins, Gordon said he will not be more relaxed knowing that he has already the earned the starting job.

"I don't think anything changes really," Gordon said. "I'm still going to come in and work hard, act like I haven't won a job and go about my business the same way. There's no pressure. It's still the game of baseball. I've been playing it for years. All you've got to do is think team first. There won't be any pressure."

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Gordon's emergence led to the Royals to move Teahen, their starting third baseman the past two years, to the outfield.

"Alex has performed great, his presence in the batter's box and just his ability to hit deep in the count, to work the counts made it pretty easy really," general manager Dayton Moore said. "What he is going to add to our lineup, we felt it was important to have him on the club.

"About a week ago, we knew we were leaning in the direction. We felt it was good to make an announcement so he could just kind of settle in."

Gordon was a non-roster invitee to spring training. The Royals will wait until near the end of camp to officially put him on the 40-man Major League roster.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft out of the University of Nebraska, where he hit .372 as a junior, led the Cornhuskers to the College World Series and was named college player of the year.

Last season Gordon was named the Texas League Player of the Year, hitting .325 with 29 home runs, 101 RBIs, 111 runs and 22 stolen bases with Wichita, the Royals' Double-A farm club.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.