Manager Robin Ventura’s hitting advice got Gordon Beckham’s attention
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com July 7, 2013 7:08PM
Chicago White Sox v Tampa Bay Rays
Updated: July 7, 2013 9:24PM
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It has been said that manager Robin Ventura gave second baseman Gordon Beckham a ‘‘my way or the highway’’ ultimatum late last season.
Beckham said it was more a case of him desperately looking for an answer and going with Ventura’s strong suggestion that he get drastically lower in his stance.
Whatever the case, Beckham homered the first time he tried it and hasn’t looked back. His two hits Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays from the No. 2 spot in a revamped lineup raised his average to .341. He’s hitting .417 in his last 13 games.
‘‘I just asked Robin: ‘What do you got? Do you have anything? Because I’ve tried everything. I’m tired of this,’ ’’ Beckham said.
The ultra-low stance ‘‘keeps my body out of the swing,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘My hands are the most important thing. It allows my bat to come through and do the right thing.’’
Hitting coach Jeff Manto said Beckham eventually could bat second, fifth, sixth or even third at some point in his career if he continues to develop. He said Beckham is staying with the plan.
‘‘I’m not going to say he hit rock-bottom [last season], but he got pretty darn close to where it was enough,’’ Manto said. ‘‘I’m not sure what was said [by Ventura], but whatever was said was delivered loud and clear and was heard.’’
Catcher Josh Phegley batted fifth and homered against Rays left-hander David Price. He got his first major-league hit Friday after being called up from
Class AAA Charlotte.
‘‘It kind of takes a little weight off the shoulders,’’ Phegley said. ‘‘You would like a better result teamwise. I thought [left-hander] John [Danks] threw a great game. Just a couple of pitches from being in that game.’’
Ventura said he liked the quality of Phegley’s at-bats and said he looks unfazed.
‘‘The jitters are out,’’ said Phegley, who batted .316 with 15 homers at Charlotte this season. ‘‘It’s time to start grinding and trying to help this team to win.’’
This and that
Ventura stacked the lineup with eight right-handed hitters against Price, giving Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza and Conor Gillaspie the day off. Alexei Ramirez led off.
◆ Danks walked a season-high two batters in seven innings. He has walked only seven in 561/3 innings this season.
◆ The Sox have lost 19 of their last 23 road games and are 15-31 on the road this season.