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After more health issues, Twins prospect Nick Gordon ‘thankful’ to be back on field

The 2014 draft pick was ranked as high as No. 2 within the Twins’ system but his career has been derailed by injury and illness

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Minnesota Twins prospect Nick Gordon (1) works out prior to a 2018 spring training game against the New York Yankees. Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It wasn’t that long ago that Nick Gordon was a heralded prospect rising through the Minnesota Twins’ system, seemingly following in the footsteps of his father, former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, and his brother, Reds infielder Dee Strange-Gordon.

The Twins grabbed Gordon out of high school with the fifth overall pick of the 2014 draft and gave him a $3.85 million signing bonus. One scouting report from MLB Pipeline that year suggested he could become an elite-level talent at shortstop.

Over the course of his time as a prospect, he has ranked in the Twins’ system in front of some guys you might have heard of — Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Taylor Rogers, among them. Ahead of former Twins Trevor May and Eddie Rosario, too.

He was ranked as high as No. 2 within the Twins’ system, per Pipeline, at one point. But, through no fault of his own, Gordon’s career has been derailed by injury and illness. And last year, he was dealt yet another setback: COVID-19.

In camp once again, Gordon, 25, is now healthy and hoping to show the Twins both what made him such a highly-touted prospect in the first place and that he can stay on the field.

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“I’m just happy to be able to put on the uniform again, get out there with everybody,” Gordon said. “It’s an exciting feeling. It’s definitely a blessing to be here, and I’m just thankful, man.”

He has plenty to be thankful for after his bout of COVID-19 last summer weakened him, sent him to the hospital for a day and kept him away from the baseball field for an extended period.

Gordon isn’t sure how he first contracted the virus, but when he did, he said it hit him pretty good. The infielder has dealt with gastrointestinal issues for years, and he said the combination of the virus plus his gastritis knocked him down. Gordon said he lost about 15 pounds and dealt with symptoms for three to four weeks.

“(I) couldn’t really get out of bed too much,” he said. “I was pretty week. Lost a bunch of weight. Things like that.”

The symptoms eventually went away — and then different symptoms hit him. Gordon lost his ability to taste and smell at one point, and for a period of time, even though he had shaken his symptoms, he couldn’t produce a negative test.

After Gordon started feeling better, he then had to work his way back into shape — slowly at first as he tested the limits of what he was able to physically do. It was “a fight,” he said.

“The feeling of being able to work out again, to be able to eat food the way I wanted to again, all that stuff felt really great to me. I just took advantage of it,” he said. “Every day I would feel good, I would try to do more and more. Just really listening to my body. The days I didn’t feel well, I kind of had to take it a little slower. I just kind of learned how to manage it.”

Gordon originally was supposed to join the Twins at their alternate site in St. Paul but he was never able to make it up to the Twin Cities. Instead, it was the end of August, beginning of September, he said, that he was able to make his way to the Twins’ facility in Fort Myers and start getting back on the field.

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Now that he’s feeling better, Gordon is out to prove that he’s still the guy the Twins drafted, even though there’s a crowded infield in front of him. While he might have gotten the call in 2019 ahead of Luis Arraez, Gordon had just been placed on the injured list with an adductor strain when Arraez was called up. Arraez, of course, has since jumped him on the depth chart.

“This is an important spring for Nick, and the focus for him at first needs to be settling in, getting his feet under him, and consistently taking it out there on the field and getting through long days, the heat,” manager Rocco Baldelli said earlier this spring. “These are things he hasn’t done in a significant period of time, so … getting out there, feeling good, getting strong, getting through the days is important.”

So far, so good.

Gordon said doctors now have a hand on the gastritis that has bothered him for years, and he’s feeling good. In the early part of spring, he has appeared in seven of the Twins’ nine spring training games, tied for a team high, at second base and shortstop.

“I feel like this year is special for me in the sense of just being back on the field, and I’ll take that with open arms. And every single day that I’m able to be on the field, I’m so excited and glad to be there,” he said. “ … I just really want to stay healthy and learn as much as I can and develop and become a great player.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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