Guillen says Beckham has to relax, stop putting pressure on himself
By Toni Ginnetti email@example.com September 10, 2011 11:40PM
Chicago White Sox's Gordon Beckham tosses his bat after striking out during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Updated: November 24, 2011 12:25AM
Big contracts don’t always translate into big offensive numbers, as the White Sox have learned this season.
But big expectations can lead to big letdowns in other ways, and manager Ozzie Guillen believes that’s why Gordon Beckham has struggled.
‘‘I will talk to one guy [at the end of the season], and it will be my second baseman,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘He’s a kid. He’s our project. Those [veteran] guys, they are not my project. They should know what they should do [in the offseason]. They should know how to prepare themselves to go to spring training. But my second baseman, we should give him a plan for what we expect.’’
What the Sox expected from their touted top draft pick in 2008 may have been over the top, Guillen said. The University of Georgia product reached the majors in June 2009 and got plenty of attention, and his first season was more than respectable — .270 average, 14 home runs, 65 RBI and votes for rookie of the year.
He struggled the first half of last season but rebounded to finish at .252 with nine home runs and 49 RBI. But this season has been a struggle again.
Guillen believes too much was put on Beckham early, and that left a mental burden that still weighs on him.
‘‘We put this kid in a position to become the savior, the next face of the franchise,’’ said Guillen, who complained about the expectations even when Beckham was first called up. ‘‘I think we didn’t handle him that good, and I mean me, the organization, the media. I’m going to talk to him about it. He’s just another second baseman. ‘You are going to hit what you are going to hit, and don’t worry about anything else. You are not the man here.’
‘‘I will take pressure off him. That’s what he has, pressure. He starts very good, and all of a sudden he got down and started putting a lot of pressure on himself. We should be treating him the way we treat [Brent] Morel and [Dayan] Viciedo.’’
Beckham already knows that adapting better to the mental side of the game is this offseason’s homework.
‘‘Mentally, I have to get better,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘I’ve learned that this year. It’s just something I have to learn. I’ve always had success, and with success comes confidence. But when you don’t have success, you can lose confidence. I have to figure out a way to find it again, and I think I will.
‘‘I’ve always been motivated, and when I’ve faced obstacles, I’ve found a way to overcome them.
‘‘I know I have to stop putting so much stress on myself and thinking about the expectations of everyone in Chicago. I can’t worry about that.
‘‘It’s all about work and routine, and I think I’ve gotten better with it. It’s paid off on the defensive side but not as much on the offensive side, but I’ll get it. People didn’t think I’d be a good second baseman, either, but I am.’’
Beckham’s work ethic is stellar, and it’s a part of what will make him successful, Guillen believes.
‘‘He never missed a day working with Joey Cora on the field,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘He practiced every day, day in and day out. He’s working with [hitting coach] Greg Walker. He has worked, and we make him work. He has worked every day.
‘‘I don’t regret playing this kid. It looks bad because his teammates don’t help him [with their own hitting]. Then he looks bad. I’m not protecting him because we expect better things from him, but when somebody doesn’t do their job, somebody [else] wants to take over, and then they make a mistake. The approach should be: ‘I’m not going to save someone else’s job; I’m going to do my job and make it easier for you.’ ’’