It's now 12 days and counting until left fielder Alex Gordon and the Royals are scheduled to head to an arbitration hearing on Feb. 16. The two sides exchanged figures on Jan. 17. Gordon is believed to have asked for $5.45 million, while the Royals countered at $4.15 million. Both parties can agree to a settlement up until the point in which the arbitrator issues a ruling.

But the Feb. 16 date — four days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training — could also serve as a soft deadline if the club wants to work out an oft-discussed long-term extension for Gordon.

Late last week, Gordon told The Star that the two sides had continued communication, and Royals general manager Dayton Moore said those talks still included the possibility of a long-term deal for Gordon, the Royals' player of the year in 2011.

Gordon, who will turn 28 on Feb. 10, remains under contract through 2013.

"No one wants to go to a hearing," Gordon said last week. "I think something is gonna get done; both sides want to figure it out."