Alex Gordon Shouldn’t Play Hero
May 29, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) looks on during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Kansas City 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Gordon is a gamer. Just watch him play. He’s a soaked in pine tar, dirty uniform, grass stain kind of player. He gives up his body to make a play with frequency, and that effort has earned him two Gold Gloves and a resurgence after years of disappointing numbers.
On Wednesday, he went back to make a play on a Jason Kipnis drive but had to adjust as the ball tailed behind him. Gordon jumped and made a desperate attempt to snag it, but was out of position. He crashed to the ground and against the fence and laid on the ground for the rest of the play while Kipnis rounded the bases.
He left the game, obviously, and the Royals stated later that he had a possible concussion and hip bruise. Hours later, Bob Dutton learned that Gordon is undergoing standard concussion tests and that the “initial response is positive”. He’s added that Gordon’s hip is sore and describes everyone’s reaction as “cautious relief“. That’s a good initial report, but you never know when the brain is involved.
And that’s why Gordon has to be honest about how he’s feeling. After the game, he suggested that he wouldn’t go on the disabled list. Maybe he was being optimistic and wanting to reassure everyone he’d be fine. Maybe he was saving face and not wanting to admit he was having trouble.
Its that second part that worries me. It’s possible that Gordon will be fine and doesn’t go on the DL, but it had better be because all tests are clear and he truly has no symptoms or complications, not because he wants to tough it out and get in the game. This isn’t a “rub some dirt on it” situation. These situations can have long-term implications, and there is still difficulty in accurately grading a situation. Due to that, treatment isn’t always straight-forward, but generally, rest – both physical and mental – are recommended. Physical exertion and activity can put an athlete at risk of reinjury or could worsen a condition.
I brought up Justin Morneau after the game. In July 2010, he was hit in the head sliding into second and, after multiple setbacks, was finally shut down. Despite their best hopes of a quick recovery, he was never right the rest of the year and they couldn’t get him back on the field. Now, he still hasn’t regained his level of production. He’s good, but he’s not going to contend for an MVP again. Morneau’s is just one cautionary tale.
Gordon is vital for this team to have any hope of contending. Jarrod Dyson and David Lough have done well with their time this year, but neither profile as everyday players and both would be in that role if Gordon missed a long amount of time. Trying to get Gordon back too soon could prolong his symptoms and hold him out longer. Taking the time to get it right now is the only way to go. There’s the rest of this season to consider – if holding Gordon out an extra week gets him back to full health so he can play the rest of the year fully, that’s what needs to be done.
But what can’t happen is for Gordon to try to be the tough guy and come back too soon. Maybe he gets into a couple games in the next week, but gets hurt again and misses a month or two. Is that worth those two games? Definitely not. And then what about next year?The instinct is to ignore the problem and play through it, but that can do more harm than good.
Think about all the times Gordon has dove for a ball and faceplanted as he made the catch. Who knows if he’d suffered brain injuries on some of those plays? The symptoms aren’t as apparent as a broken bone or a tear.
Hopefully, all the tests come back fine, Gordon misses a week and is 100% going forward, but that can’t be assumed. Whatever steps are necessary to get him fully recovered have to be taken.
For more reading, fellow Royals blogger and fan Minda Haas detailed her battles with concussions and post-concussion symptoms. It’s important to remember that “there’s no such thing as ‘just’ a concussion.”