Gordon thrilled to be back in KC

Gordon thrilled to be back in KC

KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon still isn't sure what happened to his hip. And he still isn't sure when he might be back at third base for the Royals.

On Monday, though, he certainly seemed happy to be back at Kauffman Stadium with his teammates. Gordon had been in Vail, Colo., since undergoing surgery April 17 to repair a labral tear in his right hip.

Gordon never noticed a problem with the hip all through his winter workouts and Spring Training. Then, on April 7, a 43-degree Opening Day at Chicago, trouble struck.

"I couldn't tell you exactly how it happened, but it was cold and we were standing around before even the first pitch, getting introductions and what-not, and it kind of felt a little tight," Gordon said.

In his first at-bat of the season, against White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, Gordon hammered a home run to center field.

"When I hit my home run, I could kind of feel it going around the bases, and after that, throughout the season it kept getting worse and worse."

Gordon's season didn't last much longer -- just seven games in which he fought the pain and the pitchers, going just 2-for-21 (.095). He tried to play through it.

"It really wasn't fun to play with," he said.

"It really wasn't affecting me that much swinging. It was more when I was running on the field or just get ready for quick movements and stuff like that."

The Royals reacted quickly, arranging surgery with Dr. Marc Philippon, "Hip Doctor to the Stars," who most notably performed the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez's celebrated surgery in March.

Royals head athletic trainer Nick Swartz explained the surgery in layman's terms.

"Basically the surgical procedure was they tacked the cartilage back down to the hip socket," Swartz said. "If I remember Dr. Philippon's description, it's kind of like you look at a clock and there's a section from 12 o'clock down to 3 o'clock where this tear evolved. They reattached that so that there's a smooth movement of the ball-and-socket."

Swartz said the injury is unusual in baseball and more common in football and hockey.

"In my 33 years of professional baseball, this is the first one I've seen this way," Swartz said. "It's ironic that in 2009 we see two of these take place within a month of each other."

Unlike Rodriguez, Gordon said he will not have to undergo a second surgical procedure.

Gordon did nothing to dispel the original projections for his return of late June to early July, but neither did he have any predictions.

"I want to get out there as soon as possible, obviously," he said. "I really haven't gotten into when I can come back. You always hear this, but I'm just taking it one day at a time."

He's almost certain to require an injury rehabilitation assignment in the Minor Leagues.

Gordon indicated that his progress has been good.

"If you see me walking, you probably wouldn't know anything was wrong with me," he said. "They took me off crutches earlier than expected because they thought I was doing so well."

Gordon returned from Colorado to Kansas City last Friday, two weeks after the surgery. He was immersed in rehabilitation work but kept up with Royals games.

"Out in Vail, I was getting it over the Internet, so I couldn't really see it, just getting the box score. I really didn't have anything else to do so I just sat at my computer, seeing pitch-by-pitch what was going on," he said. "But, coming home, seeing them on TV was kind of hard, not being out there helping them, but it's good to see they're playing well. It makes it a lot easier."

It wasn't easy, though, to have his season last for less than two weeks.

"You take all offseason to train and prepare for the season and go through all Spring Training, and nothing comes up with the hip or anything," Gordon said. "But then, on Opening Day, I felt it."

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