KANSAS CITY, Mo, -- It's not the news Royals fans had hoped for.
The American League Central leaders will be without All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon for two months while he rehabilitates a strained groin muscle.
And Royals fans in attendance at Thursday's home game at Kauffman Stadium say he will be hard to replace.
When Royals fans take a seat in the left field stands at Kauffman Stadium, they're sitting in a superstar's backyard. The section just behind the left field bullpen is known as "Gordo Nation," where, every Thursday, fans take a seat to gather near their hero. Many of them accept complimentary t-shirts, displaying their pride for all to see.
Those seats aren't far from where Gordon pulled up lame on Wednesday, suffering a groin strain while tracking down a fly ball. Gordon stayed down, and fans braced for bad news.
Bea Menke, a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, says she's followed Gordon around since he played college baseball at the University of Nebraska. She bought tickets for the Royals' series against Tampa Bay to watch her favorite Husker.
"I was crushed because he didn't get up. He always gets up," Menke said.
"It's going to be difficult replacing him. It's not easy to replace an Alex Gordon. The team will pull together and they'll do fine."
After Thursday's game, Gordon spoke to the media about his injury.
"The news is obviously tough, never want to be off the field for any length of time," said Gordon. He says that he knew something was wrong when he felt his leg pop. He says that when he tried to stay on his feet, his leg gave out and he went back down.
Now there's nothing left for Gordon to do but get to work on getting back to the field.
"(Just) do the rehab the best I can and try to make it back as quickly as possible," said Gordon.
In a sense, Gordon, the 31-year old three-time All-Star outfielder, makes left field look huge. His absence—even for two months—leaves a big hole in the Royals lineup, and a place in the hearts of fans that are hurting for their hero.
In fact, for many people Gordon, in his eighth big league season, is the face of the franchise—an ironman that Royals fans admire for his blue collar work ethic. Gordon has been active in the Kansas City community, raising money for pediatric cancer research with his Alex's Lemonade Stand campaign.
Fans like Raytown's John Clap say they love bringing their grandchildren to sit in Alex's section. Clap and his son brought three young boys to Thursday's game.
"He's a role model," Clap said. "He's clean-living. He's healthy. He supports and gives his all. He puts everything into it and he's a good example for them."
Other fans such as Olathe's Scott Reynolds say Gordon will be missed until he returns, and until then, the team has to keep playing ball.
"Hopefully, by Labor Day, we'll be far enough ahead in the division and we'll have already clinched," Reynolds said. "We don't have to rush him back. He can come back on his own. He can do a rehab assignment and come back for the playoffs."
For his part, Gordon says that he appreciates all the support from his teammates and the fans.
"The last two days have been pretty overwhelming. I can't thank everyone enough for all their support," said Gordon.
Toby Cook, vice-president of community relations with the Royals, says the Gordo Nation seating and t-shirt promotions will continue while Gordon rehabs from his groin injury.
You can send your get-well wishes to Alex via our Facebook page. Here's a link to that thread on our FOX 4 Facebook profile—we'll make sure Gordon gets your cards and greetings.