Alex Gordon is going to squirm.
Gordon announced his retirement from the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. He will play his final game for the club he spent his entire 14-year major league career with, the same club he grew up rooting for as a child in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday afternoon as the Royals (25-34) host the Detroit Tigers (23-34) in the season finale.
Detroit RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 9.64) will face RHP Brady Singer (3-5, 4.40) in a game moved up to 12:05 p.m. CT because of the likelihood of rain later in the afternoon.
Gordon doesn’t like the focus to be on him, at least publicly, and he joked at his retirement press conference that his wife says he’s not very emotional. But all that probably will change as he says his on-field good-bye.
Teammates, past and present, have heaped praise on Gordon’s impact on them and the game in general since his announcement. Much of that will come to a head on Sunday.
“Sunday will be, and should be, all about Alex,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said Friday.
Gordon probably would prefer that the focus be on the future of the Royals’ young pitching staff, led by Singer. Singer was the first of four Royals pitchers to be selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, including compensation picks, and the first to make his major league debut.
Singer started the second game of the shortened season in Cleveland. He has gotten stronger as the season went on, with the exception of his last outing. Prior to a loss against the Cardinals, he had pitched 14 consecutive scoreless innings in wins over Cleveland and Detroit. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Indians.
But he allowed three runs on three hits in three innings against St. Louis. He also walked five batters. That probably led to Matheny being tossed for the first time this season, after pulling Singer with no outs in the fourth.
“I walked off the field and I basically told (home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez) I thought he was squeezing the kid,” Matheny said, “and he made it harder for the kid than he needed to. And he didn’t reply. And then he asked who (the reliever) was and I told him, ‘Figure it out for yourself.'”
Singer has faced the Tigers twice in 2020. He’s 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA (two earned runs in 11 innings). He has struck out 11 and walked three.
Sunday’s finale was supposed to be a matchup of a pair of 2018 draftees, as Tarik Skubal was slated to get the ball for Detroit. But following Saturday’s victory, the Tigers announced that Zimmermann would get the start. Zimmermann is in the final year of a five-year, $110 million contract signed after the 2015 season.
Zimmerman has only had two appearances in 2020, making his season debut on Sept. 10 after suffering a forearm strain during training camp in July. In his last outing, he gave up five runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings. In his career, he’s 4-1 with a 3.07 ERA against the Royals.
“We’ve been trying to find ways to get Zimm back in there,” interim Tigers manager Lloyd McClendon said Saturday. “It’s awfully hard for him to get it going sitting four, five innings in the bullpen and then asking him to try to get loose and come into the game. He’s been built as a starter his entire career. He’s used to the routine, so we’ll get him going and get him in there.”
–Field Level Media