The Royals optioned the third baseman to Triple-A Omaha before Tuesday's game against the White Sox and reinstated reliever Kyle Farnsworth from the 15-day disabled list to take his spot on the 25-man roster.
"[We] decided to give him an opportunity to put some joy back in the game, take a little pressure off himself," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "He's just fighting himself. The hip's feeling good, but we felt like for at least a couple of weeks period, lets him get down there and take a little pressure off of himself. He's got a lot of things going on right now."
Gordon, who missed more than three months of action because of injury, was hitting .198 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 29 games this season with the Royals. He suffered a tear in his right hip labral cartilage on a home run swing on Opening Day against the White Sox. He played in six more games before the pain became too much and surgery was required. Gordon did not return to the club until July 17.
"Since he's come back from injury, he's been behind a little bit," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "I just think it's been a little fast for him and he just needs to get some consistent at-bats in a different level of competition and get his sense of timing back both offensively and defensively."
Moore said the move was not prompted by physical reasons.
"He'll go down there until the Triple-A season is completed," Moore said.
After Omaha finishes up in about three weeks, Gordon will return to the Royals in September. Omaha does not have an off-day on its schedule until the Triple-A season concludes on September 7. Hillman said he anticipated Gordon playing in most of those games, but not all.
As for Gordon's replacement at third base on the big league team, Hillman said he would mix and match primarily between Mark Teahen and Alberto Callaspo. Teahen was in the starting lineup at third base for Tuesday night's game against the White Sox, while Callaspo was penciled in at second base.
"It will probably be mostly Mark," Hillman said, "but it's going to be dependent on the condition of how Willie [Bloomquist's] legs are feeling."
Gordon's move to Omaha is sure to stir interest there because he was a collegiate star at the University of Nebraska in nearby Lincoln. He played just one game for Omaha, during an injury rehabilitation assignment this summer. He spent most of his rehab time with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Sunday's game at Detroit marked the first time he'd played a day game after a night game. When he entered Monday night's game in the late innings at Chicago, it was the first time he'd played five games in a row. The Royals were bringing him along slowly and he played in 22 of the 30 games since his return. During that span, he batted .227 (17-for-75) with two homers, two doubles and eight RBIs. The power boost has been recent; he had no extra-base hits in his first 13 games back.
As the season began he played just seven games, batting .095, before it was decided that surgery was necessary.
Gordon had major hip surgery similar to that performed on two other prominent third basemen, Alex Rodriguez and Mike Lowell. Since he returned, Gordon has consistently said the hip was presenting no unusual problems or pain.
Recently, he's also altered his swing, trying to keep both hands on the bat as he goes through his left-handed cuts. Previously he'd dropped his left hand off the bat prematurely. The new style seemed to give him more pop and enabled him to hit with more authority the opposite way. Last Thursday, for example, he drilled a home run into the left-field seats at Minnesota.
Defensively, however, Gordon had not progressed as the Royals had hoped. Hillman noted that Gordon's positioning defensively, both before the pitch and off the bat, had been out of sync since his return.
"I think there's a lot going on in his mind right now, trying to make up for lost time with the injury, so we felt like it would be a good thing to send him down and take a little pressure off," Hillman said. "Hopefully he'll come back in September and do some good things and finish up strong."
Farnsworth missed 48 games and had been on the disabled list since June 24, when he went down with a strained right groin against the Astros. In 27 big league games this season, Farnsworth is 1-4 with a 4.24 ERA. He has pitched 23 1/3 innings with 25 strikeouts and six walks and will be part of an eight-reliever rotation for the Royals.
Farnsworth tossed two scoreless innings for Northwest Arkansas on Monday night and fanned two, throwing 15 of his 19 pitches for strikes.
"Everything went well," said Farnsworth, who arrived in the Royals clubhouse two hours before game time. "It was probably the first time I just pitched and didn't worry about my leg. It's good to be back. I felt well."
Farnsworth said he didn't anticipate being used for Tuesday night's game but added that he would be ready if called upon.
Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.