Is position switch on Gordon Beckham’s short list?
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org June 24, 2013 9:17PM
Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros
METS AT SOX
The facts: 7:10 p.m., Ch. 26, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
The starters: Zack Wheeler (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (5-6, 2.69).
The REST OF THE SERIES
Wednesday: 7:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Shaun Marcum (0-9, 5.76) vs. John Danks (1-4, 5.40).
Updated: June 24, 2013 9:25PM
Playing two games at shortstop for Class AAA Charlotte reminded Gordon Beckham how fun his old position is.
“Yeah, I had a blast, I really did,’’ Beckham said Sunday. “It kind of brought me back to when I was growing up.’’
Back to the good old days, before baseball was a job, when he was a college superstar who hit 53 career home runs at Georgia, a Golden Spikes Award finalist and a can’t-miss first-round draft pick.
Knowing that he’s the guy who will take Alexei Ramirez’s place when the White Sox shortstop finally takes his first break of the season, Beckham actually is growing impatient waiting for his shot.
“I keep bugging him about it because he’s going to need a day off at some point,’’ Beckham said.
And knowing that — bigger career changes have been made by Beckham himself — moving from second base back to shortstop full time isn’t out of the question with the Sox or perhaps another team. Beckham believes it’s possible.
“I’d welcome it,’’ he said.
The Sox have Ramirez, the 2010 Silver Slugger winner and high-end defensive talent who is signed through 2015 with a club option for an extra year, entrenched at shortstop. Despite being in the worst defensive slump of his six-year career — Ramirez committed his 12th error Sunday, one in a series of costly errors — Beckham said, “The guy we have over there has a lot of range and a great arm, and he should be playing there in this infield.’’
But what if Beckham shows he’s up to the task and a trade for Ramirez presents itself to general manager Rick Hahn that would bring valuable pieces in return?
The Sox’ top-rated infield prospect is Charlotte second baseman Carlos Sanchez (a line-drive hitter who is only batting .236). And Class A Kannapolis second baseman Micah Johnson is hitting .336 with some pop while leading the minor leagues with 55 stolen bases (while making 18 errors in the field). Or Hahn could acquire a second baseman in a trade.
Who knows? It’s always nice to have options.
Beckham, whom the Sox turned into a third baseman after he was drafted in 2008 and was switched to second base after his rookie year, said he’d take another switch in stride. Aside from adjusting to throwing over the top more and releasing quicker with less time from shortstop, he said a change wouldn’t take much.
“To get it over there I wouldn’t have to strain,’’ he said. “It would be another challenge, moving to another position, but I feel like I’m over that whole thing. I’ve played shortstop my whole life. It would be tougher but I feel like I could handle it and definitely play there. I don’t know if anyone would give me rave ratings on my arm or range but I would definitely be solid over there.’’
Any discussion of Beckham’s value, whether as a projected Sox fixture at second base, potential shortstop, versatile infielder or trade chip, must involve his offense. While falling short of meeting expectations he set with his rookie year, when he hit .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBI in 103 games, he looks as comfortable at the plate as ever, despite missing eight weeks and playing with the after-effects of a fractured hamate bone. Beckham is batting .307.
So that’s encouraging, although Beckham has had hopeful spurts before. Stay tuned watching him hit.
And getting that first shot at short. Beckham can’t wait.
“That position takes a different mind-set,’’ Beckham said. “You have to play that position with your hair on fire because there is just not much time to think. It brought back memories playing there my whole life. It was fun, it was really cool to see that part of the infield again.’’