Failure has been good teacher for Gordon Beckham
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org May 3, 2012 9:30PM
Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox
Updated: June 5, 2012 11:45AM
Rock bottom for a hitter? That comes easily. Crawling out of it is where the chin of a baseball player is tested.
It can be a torturous process. It can feel never-ending. Some players never rediscover their stroke. They stay lost until they’ve sat on enough minor-league bus trips, then the game eventually spits them out.
For those who do make the turnaround, there’s a starting point, an important first step best described by former White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker in that distinct Georgia accent of his.
‘‘You gotta reach that point as a player where you just say, ‘Who gives a [bleep]!’ ’’ he used to say.
It’s a philosophy Paul Konerko embraces to this day.
So excuse Gordon Beckham if he’s just the latest Sox player to be mumbling, ‘‘Who gives a [bleep]!’’ after his at-bats. And it’s about time.
‘‘I think I’m really close,’’ said Beckham, who went 2-for-4 on Thursday to lift his average to .203 with one home run and four RBI. ‘‘I talk to Paul a lot. He’s seen the same stuff, and he figured it out. I think I’m starting to figure it out. It’s been a process, but I’ve been growing through a lot of anguish.
‘‘You’ve got to get to that point where you don’t care. That’s what I try and remind myself all the time. You care, but it’s almost like, ‘Whatever happens, I’m good with it either way.’ That’s where I’m getting to now, and it’s a good feeling.’’
It would be an even better feeling for the Sox, considering how important Beckham is to the foundation they are trying to construct.
‘‘Rebuilding’’ has been redefined several times on the South Side since the offseason, but the bottom line is that A.J. Pierzynski and Jake Peavy likely will become free agents after this season and that Konerko’s contract runs through 2013. Those are the three best players on the Sox’ roster, and they are waiting to pass their torches.
Youth was supposed to be served by players such as Beckham, Brent Morel and Dayan Viciedo. Instead, it has been hidden at the bottom of the lineup or benched for ‘‘mental days.’’
Beckham, 25, is being looked at especially closely. His offensive numbers have gone from .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBI as a rookie in 2009 to .252 with nine homers and 49 RBI in 2010 to .230 with 10 homers and 44 RBI last season to just looking for a good day to lift him to the .200 mark this season.
It’s never a good career path to go from looking like the new face of the organization to a bust in
the minds of some within a three-year period.
The remedy? ‘‘Who gives a [bleep]’’ and let it rip.
‘‘If you let it add pressure, then it can,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘And in the past, I have [let it]. But I’m learning from my mistakes.’’
Hopefully, that’s the case. Because Charlotte to Syracuse is a long bus ride to take when you’re filled with regret.