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White Sox’ Gordon Beckham finds phenom formula again

GordBeckham 6-for-14 so far spring training has bounced back from tough first day plate tough seas2011. | Mark Duncan~AP

Gordon Beckham, 6-for-14 so far in spring training, has bounced back from a tough first day at the plate and a tough season in 2011. | Mark Duncan~AP

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Updated: April 13, 2012 10:34AM



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The list of those needing a fresh start in White Sox camp is long, and Gordon Beckham’s name is near the top.

Beckham isn’t a let-it-roll-off-the-back kind of player, so putting the past behind him has never been easy. When things have gone bad for the 25-year-old second baseman, he has internalized, beat himself up and talked his way through it with everybody from his father to the media.

For Beckham, who got off to such a promising start as a rookie, struggling was something walk-ons at Georgia dealt with, not him. He had never failed at any level of baseball.

As Paul Konerko said on his first day of camp, Beckham — whose numbers have declined in each of the last two seasons after he batted .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBI in 378 at-bats as a rookie in 2009 — has been through the downs that everyone needs to face. And he should be the better for it in 2012, Konerko said.

“It’s really kind of like his rookie year maybe again. That’s the way I look at it with him,’’ Konerko said.

A heart-to-heart talk with his dad convinced Beckham to be more carefree, to make baseball fun again by being himself. He’s more involved clowning with teammates and others around him.

With a new manager and coaches, it’s as good a time as any to turn the page.

“Everybody here is in a good frame of mind. Everybody is competing the right way,’’ Beckham said. “That’s allowing us to relax, coming to the field to compete and enjoy it. It’s something I’ve wanted to get back to, and a lot of the guys wanted to get back to.

“This is our job but it’s also a game that we love. It makes it real easy coming to field every day when you enjoy it.’’

Beckham struck out twice and looked bad doing it in the first exhibition game of the spring. As inconsequential as games on March 5 are, it could have been a significant moment for him.

“A really rough first day,’’ Beckham said. “I was like, man, I didn’t wait all offseason to do that. Last year I might have been like, ‘Uh-oh, this is not good.’ This year I’m like, ‘Nah, that’s not important. That was a fluke. Today is important.’ I showed up the next day and did what I did and kind of rolled from there.’’

Beckham lined two singles in the second game, homered a couple days later and has struck out once since. He’s 6-for-14 with two stolen bases.

“All I want is to go out and compete the right way, give everything to the team and not worry about individual stuff,’’ Beckham said. “It’s not important to me. If the team does well, I’m doing something to help out.’’

Through the lows of his season at bat, Beckham played defense that sparked Gold Glove discussions.

“I love playing defense. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win one,’’ Beckham said. “You have to make all of the routine plays and some plays that are great. That’s all I try to do — make all the easy plays and once in a while make one people don’t expect you to make.’’



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