Third base up in the air for Royals in '09

Third base up in the air for Royals in '09

KANSAS CITY -- Who's on third?

That's a question that figures to prompt some discussion among Royals officials when they begin the process of constructing the 2009 team. In the wake of Mark Teahen's hot streak at the plate recently while playing at third base, manager Trey Hillman has made the observation that Teahen looks extremely comfortable at the hot corner, the position he played when he came to the Royals.

But Kansas City also has a big investment in Alex Gordon, another left-handed-hitting third baseman who can also play first.

How will it all shake out when February rolls around and the Royals report to Spring Training?

"I don't think we're to that point yet, from the standpoint of looking at the construction of the club," Hillman said. "But I think it's something that definitely has to be discussed. I think [Teahen] does have a comfort level with his feet on that infield dirt. I think he has taken back to third base the comfort level when he was there."

Teahen went into Saturday's game hitting.404, with a .635 slugging percentage over a 13-game span since Sept. 6. Meanwhile, his defensive work at third has been solid. Teahen moved back to left field for Saturday's game, as Gordon started at third against White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd.

When Teahen was primarily a third baseman in 2006, he hit .313 from June 3 until he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Sept. 8. During that span, he had 19 doubles, five triples, 16 homers and 60 runs batted in.

The fact that Gordon has some experience at first creates some flexibility as the Royals begin to ponder their options.

"He has [playing first base] in his background," Hillman said.

Hillman is reserving judgment regarding whether Gordon or Teahen is the better defensive third baseman.

"I don't think we've seen a big enough sample with Mark Teahen there day in and day out for me to make that evaluation," Hillman said. "I will tell you I'm every bit as comfortable with Mark Teahen at third base right now as I have been with Alex Gordon."

Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.