Gordon Beckham’s fielding blunder hardly the first for 2013 Sox
BY DAN McGRATH For Sun-Times Media June 27, 2013 9:26PM
New York Mets v Chicago White Sox
Updated: June 27, 2013 9:40PM
Gordon Beckham is his own toughest critic and was in full beat-myself-up mode after a rare fielding gaffe cost Chris Sale a win and Addison Reed a save in the White Sox’ game against the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Beckham charged across the infield from second base and ran Conor Gillaspie off an infield popup that was clearly the third baseman’s play in the ninth inning. The ball fell safely, and David Wright, running with two outs, scored the tying run from second.
Beckham was hardly mollified after his deftly placed sacrifice bunt helped the Sox push across the winning run in the ninth.
‘‘I’m an idiot,’’ he declared after the game.
If his mood had brightened any one day later, it was imperceptible.
‘‘I’m a moron,’’ he said. ‘‘Maybe I can laugh about it when I’m 50.’’
Such a Little League-style blooper was totally out of character for Beckham. A college shortstop at Georgia, he played third base as a Sox rookie in 2009 and has been a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman since 2010. At either position, his hands, arm, range and awareness have made him a strong defensive asset. There’s talk of returning him to shortstop should the Sox finally tire of Alexei Ramirez’s inconsistency and deal him for prospects once they commit to rebuilding.
Though Beckham is rarely the culprit, lampshade-on-the-head fielding has been all too common for the Sox. They were the American League’s most efficient defensive team last season but rank 13th in fielding percentage this season, one reason for their clumsy tumble into last place.
‘‘It gets talked about, that’s for sure,’’ Beckham said.
But it persists. Ramirez’s error on Juan Lagares’ grounder allowed two runs to score in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Mets. Andrew Brown scored the second one from second base, advancing when Dayan Viciedo made a late, wide and ill-advised throw to third in a futile effort to retire Josh Satin after running down Brown’s single to left-center field.
Beckham was back to being Beckham. He made two nice plays on grounders, turned two double plays and had the Sox’s only extra-base hit of the night, a well-struck double into the left-field corner off winning pitcher Shaun Marcum in the third inning. He’s not yet the line-drive machine he was as a rookie, when 43 of his 102 hits went for extra bases and he drove in 63 runs in 376 at-bats. But Beckham has kept his average above .300 in the 28 games in which he has appeared since a fractured hamate bone caused him to miss nearly seven weeks of the season.
‘‘I’ve got a better approach at the plate,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not afraid to take pitches and work counts, but I’m not overthinking it. I’m just playing ball, letting it go up there and having fun.”
The little-known hamate bone can be problematic for a hitter. Located in the palm area beneath the fingers, it affects how he grips the bat.
Beckham insists the fracture is fully healed and his hand is not bothering him, but he has seven doubles and no homers or triples among his 29 hits. Wednesday’s double and a sharp line single to left-center in Tuesday’s game could be an indication he’s starting to drive the ball.
‘‘There’s still some soreness there, but he’s working counts and giving us good at-bats,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘The power will come as the soreness fades and he gets a little more comfortable.”
Meanwhile, the Sox try to salvage a season that has taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction. Chris Sale aside, no one looks good on a last-place team.
‘‘We’ve got to try to do better, every one of us,’’ Beckham said.