CHICAGO – White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham stood in the back corner of the room alone.
While most of his teammates were mobbed during SoxFest’s media availability at the Palmer House Hilton over the weekend, Beckham briefly was left to himself. It was understandable. After all, how many times since his breakout rookie season in 2009 can Beckham be asked about replicating those offensive numbers?
But Beckham understands he’ll have to endure any and all questions regarding his offensive struggles until he proves he’s capable of hitting at least .270 with power, as he did in 2009.
“I felt like at the end of the year I turned a corner and I think a lot of people saw that,” Beckham said. “That’s probably why I’m still here, because they saw there was a change. There’s a lot of good going on in my life and there was a lot of good at the end of the season, not wins and losses, but what I was actually doing statistically that point to this being a good year for me.”
Rumors circulated in the offseason that the Sox were looking to trade Beckham after yet another disappointing season. General manager Rick Hahn admitted the Sox have an obligation to listen when teams inquire about a player and acknowledged they were contacted regarding Beckham’s availability, which led to some consideration to trading him.
“But there was a reason he ended up the eighth pick in the country and he wound up being one of the contenders for Rookie of the Year,” Hahn told the Northwest Herald. “That talent’s there, and quite frankly, his defense has been fantastic and a lot of his value comes on the defensive side of the ball. Moving him just for the sake of getting a little more offensive output, you might be making yourself worse off overall.”
Manager Robin Ventura and hitting coach Jeff Manto are confident Beckham’s hitting mechanics have improved – specifically the location of his hands and how he loads his swing – to put him in a position to have a success. If anything, a move back to the No. 2 spot could help Beckham more than anything. The 26-year-old was forced out of the spot after the Sox acquired Kevin Youkilis in June, bumping Beckham down to ninth in the lineup.
While hitting second last season, Beckham batted .258 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in 47 games. However, in the 96 games he hit ninth, Beckham’s average dropped to .218 with eight homers and 32 RBIs. Beckham realizes he can’t have another season like 2012, when he batted .234 with a .296 on-base percentage – tying his career worst set in 2011.
At some point, likely soon, Beckham’s defensive prowess won’t be enough to overshadow his offensive deficiencies.
“I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself and I’m not really worried about the naysayers,” Beckham said. “For a long time I was, but I really don’t care anymore. That’s not for me. There’s a lot of people out there that can talk about how bad of a season I had, but I could point you in a lot of different directions that say what other nine hitter in the league had what I had. I don’t think so.”