In January 2011, when outfielder Alex Gordon stood in front of reporters during the Kansas City Royals' annual caravan stop in Omaha, Neb., hosted by the Omaha Storm Chasers, he faced questions about his offensive numbers being down over the past couple of seasons.
He pointed toward his injuries and being sent down to Omaha to learn a new defensive position, but he also said he didn't want to make excuses. He just needed to pick it up to help the team better than he had in recent seasons.
He also hinted at a couple of adjustments Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer made to his swing. Then he went out and put up the best numbers of his career, hitting .303 with 23 HRs and 87 RBIs in 151 games. During the 2012 Royals Caravan stop at Children's Hospital & Medical Center on Friday, Jan. 13, I asked him about the adjustments he made before last season.
"It was more of an approach than anything," Gordon told me. "I made a couple of adjustments with my swing--going up there every at bat with a game plan, knowing what I wanted to do, and that was really Kevin Seitzer coming into play, teaching me what I was looking for, what I needed to do in every kind of situation. It was pretty much putting his mind into my body and putting me up at the plate."
Seitzer's philosophy is to take the ball back up the middle as often as possible. Once Gordon embraced it, things began to change.
"[His philosophy is] not trying to do too much," Gordon continued. "I think maybe before I was going up there trying to hit doubles, hit home runs, instead of just thinking, 'Nice and easy, base hits.' If you think that way, the other things are going to come later on. And they did. At first, maybe I didn't believe in what he was saying, but I eventually believed him later on."
He now says he has 100 percent faith in Seitzer.
After putting together a good year at the plate and winning a Gold Glove in the outfield, I was curious to find out if Gordon felt vindicated. Certainly he had heard the whispers that maybe his time to produce was running out. But, with that said, he always seemed to be even keel, even when the numbers were not there.
"That's the game of baseball," Gordon said. "It's a failure game. You're going to fail more times than you're going to succeed. So, it is about staying even keel. There's going to be more ups and downs throughout my career, I'm sure. So, it's just about taking the right approach, staying positive and looking at it the right way."
Lee Warren has covered the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals) for the past three seasons. You can find more of his writing about the team at www.omahabaseball360.com. Follow @OmahaBaseball on Twitter for more continual updates about the team.