Gordon Beckham’s White Sox tenure could be nearing its end
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter August 14, 2014 8:22PM
Updated: August 14, 2014 8:58PM
There’s a month and a half to go in the season, and maybe for Gordon Beckham, as well.
Not in baseball, but in a White Sox uniform, the only one the 27-year-old second baseman has worn since he was selected eighth overall in the 2008 draft.
The Sox have several second-base prospects on the rise, cheaper alternatives in their system such as Carlos Sanchez, Micah Johnson and Marcus Semien, whose opportunities to step up will begin in September. Beckham’s glove has been typically good — exceptional, even — but his bat is on yet another descent after it showed flashes during a .306 May of being what it was in happier, more promising days.
“It’s just not up to me,’’ he said of the distinct possibility of playing for another team next season. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s on the line for me, especially this last month and a half. I realize that.’’
The sixth-highest-paid Sox player at $4.175 million for 2014, Beckham is headed toward his last year of salary arbitration before he can become a free agent after 2016. If offered, Beckham would be in line to make more than $5 million, but at this point, it seems possible the Sox won’t tender an offer.
“I’m doing the best I can, playing as hard as I can,’’ Beckham said. “For me, it’s in God’s hands. So I’ll just try to have fun and be passionate about the game.’’
Beckham is batting .220 with seven home runs and 36 RBI. Those numbers, along with a .264 on-base percentage (he has only 19 walks in 404 plate appearances), .341 slugging percentage and .606 OPS, rank at or near the bottom for all second basemen. The Sox’ chances of trading him plummeted with each passing day in July, when Beckham batted .138 with no homers and three walks.
“This one, it wasn’t good timing for the team and myself,’’ he said.
“When you get mechanically bad with the swing, that will ruin your chances for more hits.’’
To his credit, Beckham has played hard through it and acted the part of a professional. Unfortunately, the slump had become something he was all too familiar with.
“I feel like it’s just another test,’’ Beckham said. “I’ve been through a lot over my career, so I’m just trying not to break, you know what I mean?
“I’ve tried to make the best of stuff that’s not going well. It’s not always easy, especially where I’m at in my career, but I felt like I’ve competed the right way.’’
In the Sox’ 3-2 victory over the Giants in 10 innings Tuesday, Beckham was a hero with a diving stop and glove-flip to start a double play in the ninth inning and a game-winning single in the 10th. There simply haven’t been enough of those moments with the bat, though.
“He’s handled it pretty good,’’ said manager Robin Ventura, who has kept the faith by batting Beckham second here and there of late. “There are times when he’s frustrated, you can tell. But he doesn’t take it to the field.
“Anybody that’s struggling and not feeling right, sometimes you see they might miss a pitch here or there because their mind might be wandering. He hasn’t let that happen.’’
Beckham’s high level of respect for Ventura as a person is one thing that motivates him to be a maximum-effort guy through thick and thin.
“The White Sox have been extremely good to me — they’ve hung with me through some struggles,’’ Beckham said. “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but I feel like I’ve come to play every day. That’s all I can really do, whether the hits fall or don’t.’’