KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Royals manager Ned Yost joked that nobody had better steal Alex Gordon's crutches, only to watch his star outfielder walk slowly into a news conference without any Thursday.
The doctors may be saying that Gordon will be out for eight weeks with a severe groin strain, but he already seemed to defy them just one day after getting hurt.
"I'm going to do everything I can to get back out there quicker," he said.
Gordon was injured in the fourth inning of Wednesday night's game against Tampa Bay. He crumpled to the field near the warning track and lay there for several minutes, eventually needing a cart to leave the field. He later underwent an MRI that revealed the extent of the injury.
"The news is obviously tough. I mean, I want to be out there every day," he said. "I knew it wasn't good, especially with the season we're having. To be carted off and thinking that's going to be taken away for a while, it's frustrating."
Yost said that the MRI revealed a "two-plus groin strain," and that the one positive is that Gordon will not need surgery.
Still, the clubhouse leader is supposed to be on crutches for a while, and he will almost certainly do no baseball activities for several weeks.
When asked whether the eight-week timeframe given by the doctors meant Gordon would be back in time for regular-season games, Yost said that he simply didn't know.
"We have no way of determining that," he said. "We just have to go week to week."
The Royals put Gordon on the disabled list prior to Thursday's series finale against the Rays, one of several roster moves they made.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura was activated from the DL to make the start, right-hander Aaron Brooks was optioned to Triple-A Omaha and left-hander Brandon Finnegan was recalled from the same club.
Filling Gordon's void in the Royals lineup wasn't all Yost had to worry about, either: He is also the manager of the American League team for Tuesday's All-Star Game.
After spending Thursday morning pondering replacements for Gordon, who was due to start in Cincinnati, Yost chose Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner — one of the five "final vote" candidates.
"That's another crazy thing about this," Yost said. "I knew as soon as Gordo went down, this was going to affect both of my teams. And it was going to be a lot more homework."
Still, the thought that he put into his All-Star team seemed to be secondary to the thought that he was giving Gordon, one of the most respected players in the clubhouse.
"Put it this way, when I really screw up in a game, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and have this pit in my stomach, right?" Yost said. "I woke up last night and had that horrible feeling in my stomach, and I said, 'Wait a minute, I didn't screw up. And we're not on a losing streak.' And then it hit me, Alex Gordon. So it runs deep."
Not only is the four-time Gold Glove winner one of the best defensive players in baseball, he was also the Royals' hottest hitter. He had seven hits, reached base eight times and drove in six runs during a doubleheader sweep of Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
"It's just devastating," said Jarrod Dyson, who started in Gordon's place Thursday. "I got a chance to talk to Gordo before I left the clubhouse. We just wish him the best. Our prayers go out to the guy. We stick together around here."
Yost said that Dyson and Paulo Orlando would handle the vacant spot in the outfield, though the Royals also still could make a move prior to the trade deadline.
In some positive injury news, Ventura had no issues going five innings in an 8-3 victory on Thursday that finished off a four-game sweep of Tampa Bay. The hard-throwing right-hander had been struggling before going on the DL with the elbow issue.
The Royals are also due to get Jason Vargas, out with a left flexor strain, back from the DL after the All-Star break. He had no problems after a 60-pitch simulated game Wednesday, and will make a rehab start Monday for Double-A Northwest Arkansas so he can face live hitters.
The return of those two starters should also help overcome Gordon's injury.
"That always helps. That'll be a key part of it," Yost said. "When you lose a key player like that, everybody has to pitch in a little bit."