Gordon Beckham’s checked swing passes test
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org May 7, 2012 9:50PM
Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians - Game One
Updated: June 9, 2012 8:13AM
CLEVELAND — White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto is satisfied with one of the most analyzed and scrutinized swings in Chicago — Gordon Beckham’s.
General manager Ken Williams drew more attention to it last season, saying he longed for Beckham’s college and (successful) rookie swing.
“He’s gotten that back to where he was in the minor leagues and when he first got here,’’ Manto said Monday. “That’s what the project has been, to get him to where he was.’’
Beckham doubled off the wall in right-center and scored in the first game of the day-night doubleheader Monday. Wrapped around a strikeout against Jose Valverde to end Sunday’s game in Detroit is a 9-for-24 (.375) run in his last seven games going into Game 2.
“I feel like I’m doing what I thought I would do,’’ said Beckham, whose average was up to .217 after a 3-for-27 start.
“Where he was, I don’t think he could have sustained a major-league season, 600 plate appearances,’’ Manto said. “The bat path was a little off, and his shoulders were steep. Right now he’s square, head with the shoulders. He has way better balance, and he’s way more aggressive. In the position he is now, being taller, and the bat path a little better, he can sustain. I’m not saying he can hit .300 or .280, but he’s able to make adjustments throughout a season.’’
Armchair critics and amateur hitting coaches harp on Beckham’s “load’’ — how the hands go back before going forward.
“When you talk about loads and gathers, that’s a whole different entity,’’ Manto said. “When people are looking at his hands, that’s like Joe Morgan flapping down his back elbow. It’s the same thing, a timing mechanism — definitely not a load. [Beckham’s] load comes with his leg kick. That’s his load.’’
Manto said the biggest thing about Beckham’s changes is the confidence that accompanies them.
“It’s creating the arrogant player, in a respectful way, that he once was,’’ Manto said. ‘‘When the game is humbling you, your personality goes down the chute, too. Now he’s having some success, and he’s a little more confident. We like to have him go to the plate a little more arrogant, and he is. The path he’s at now? We’re pretty happy.’’