Advertisement

Gibson Adds His Mix to Royals’ Chemistry : Baseball: He puts Dodgers behind him. Ahead is a role as outfielder, designated hitter and catalyst to underachievers.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kirk Gibson strolled from the batting cage at the Baseball City Sports Complex to the box seats behind home plate and shook hands with Dodger scout Mel Didier on Friday.

“Darn, you look great,” Didier said.

“Why not?” Gibson replied. “Just because everyone in Los Angeles thought I was finished?”

The Kansas City Royals are banking that Gibson isn’t finished.

Advertisement

They have guaranteed him $3.65 million over the next two years. They will use him in right field and as a designated hitter and hope his intensity--his football mentality, as George Brett put it--becomes contagious.

There is irony in that. The Royals believe that the former Dodger will enhance their chemistry at a time when the chemistry of the Dodgers has become an issue, some regarding it as potentially explosive.

Gibson was asked if this should be a concern for the Dodgers?

“A legitimate concern, but I don’t want to say anything more,” Gibson said after officially marking the transition from Dodger blue to Royal blue with his first spring workout.

Advertisement

“Other than wishing the Dodgers well, I don’t give a . . . anymore,” he said. “They’re not my concern.”

The Royals are his concern, and his signing may prove providential in more than one way, because the status of left fielder Bo Jackson is clouded by the hip injury he suffered as a Raider running back in the AFC playoffs.

Jackson is here, receiving therapy and walking with crutches. His collection of exotically colored rubber workout suits hang from a rack in the clubhouse. Some in the Royal organization speculate that he could miss a significant portion of the season.

“It’s a large concern,” Manager John Wathan said. “We won’t know anything until he comes off the crutches on March 13.

Advertisement

“Fortunately, our best depth is at that position (the outfield), and Kirk is part of that.”

The Royals hope to go with Jackson in left field, Brian McRae in center and Danny Tartabull in right, spelled at times by Gibson, a former Michigan State wide receiver who once thought about playing two professional sports but opted for baseball because it seemed to offer greater longevity.

“Bo’s phenomenal, but I wish he’d play just one of the two because I think he’d be even better than he is--and maybe have a better chance of staying healthy,” said Gibson, who is again 100% after his last two seasons with the Dodgers were marred by leg problems.

“I’ll be a fast . . . by opening day,” Gibson said.

Advertisement

He also repeated many of the things he has said before about his departure from the Dodgers.

Among them:

--The lifestyle in Los Angeles wasn’t to his liking.

--Even after his midsummer confrontation with Executive Vice President Fred Claire, he offered to sign a multiyear contract but got virtually no communication from Claire, let alone a commitment.

Advertisement

“The Dodgers were outstanding to us,” Gibson said, alluding to his family and himself. “It wasn’t that a good situation turned bad; the structure of the team simply changed and I didn’t fit in.

“It’s a business. You’re used and discarded. I accept that, though I felt I deserved some communication at least, an indication as to my status.

“I had good years in L.A. and hope to have good years here, maybe win another (World Series) ring. I don’t see any problems fitting in. I am intense, there’s no question about that, but I think the Royals were embarrassed and irritated by what happened to them last year, and that alone should light their fire.”


Advertisement