By Dave Skretta
Alex Gordon will have to be content with watching All-Star teammates Salvador Perez and Greg Holland when the Kansas City Royals triumvirate heads to Target Field in Minneapolis next week.
The Royals announced Thursday that Gordon will miss the annual Midsummer Classic after visiting with a specialist and receiving an injection for his sprained right wrist. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was added to the American League roster as his replacement.
Gordon, Holland and Perez are all headed to their second straight All-Star game.
"Obviously this is not what I wanted to happen, especially coming into the All-Star break and being on the All-Star team, but the most important thing is to be ready for our games," Gordon said before the start of a four-game series Thursday night against Detroit. "To be healthy after the All-Star break is the big thing here."
Gordon spent nearly seven years in the big leagues before making his first All-Star team last season, and the three-time Gold Glove winner is having another solid year. Along with sure-handed defense in left field, he was hitting .268 with nine homers and 44 RBIs.
"It's an honor to be part of the game, whether you play or not," Gordon said. "Just to be around some of the greatest players in the game and experience all the festivities that go with it, (Derek) Jeter's last All-Star game and things like that, it's special."
Royals manager Ned Yost said he's holding off on putting Gordon on the disabled list in hopes that resting him against Detroit and during the All-Star break will be enough.
Meanwhile, Royals left-hander Jason Vargas remained in Florida after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday night. Yost said that Vargas, who is 8-4 with a 3.31 ERA, was expected to remain hospitalized on Thursday before returning to Kansas City on Friday.
Reliever Louis Coleman was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take his place on the roster.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas was also feeling better after an illness, Yost said, though he remained out of the starting lineup. Danny Valencia was taking his place.
The recent spate of injuries and sickness hardly tarnishes what has been a positive first half for the Royals, who began the 4½ games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.
Their pitching staff and defense have been among the best in baseball, and an offense that was the culprit in an early season swoon has shown signs in the past couple of weeks of turning around.
The fact that Kansas City got its three amigos in Gordon, Perez and Holland back in the All-Star game is a testament to how far the club has come.
For much of the past two decades, the long-downtrodden franchise has struggled to identify its requisite token All-Star.
Hence, guys such as Mark Redman and Gil Meche found their way onto rosters.
"We were kind of hoping for a few more guys to join us," Holland said, "but it's special to be around Salvy, because he's helped me personally so much, and so has Gordo, diving and throwing guys out at the plate. Between those two, that's a big part of my success."
Perez was voted into the starting lineup this season, but he'll have a hard time trumping the way he finished his first appearance. He was inserted in last year's game in time to catch the final pitch that the Yankees' Mariano Rivera made in an All-Star game.
Holland had pitched the previous inning last year, and remembers walking to the mound at Citi Field in New York and thinking, "Just don't screw this up for Mo."
Now, he's hoping to be the final pitcher that the AL squad uses in a victory.
"For me it's rewarding because I'm proud of my work ethic, being able to not be complacent – 'Hey, I made an All-Star team,' and start changing your routine. We've stayed at it," Holland said. "You're rewarded in multiple years means you're staying consistent, you're continuing to work and continuing to get better."