Results tagged ‘ Gordon Beckham ’

Game 4: Ventura wins, Dunn bashes

There were no champagne corks popping or raucous celebrations going on in the White Sox clubhouse following Robin Ventura’s first win as a manager on Thursday in Surprise. But the 6-3 victory for the South Siders still had plenty of highlights, as the White Sox improved to 1-3 in Cactus League action.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Adam Dunn. Adam Dunn. And … . Oh, yes, Adam Dunn.

It was just the fourth game of 2012 for the White Sox and it was Cactus League play in Arizona, after all, where the statistics don’t make their way to the back of baseball cards. But the big slugger still looks locked in at the plate in a way he never did during all of the 2011 season.

“The at-bats are more important for me looking at it,” said Ventura of Dunn, who homered on a 1-2 pitch from Neftali Feliz in the first and doubled home another run in the third. “I see his at-bats, his approach when he does it, instead of if he gets a hit. That’s all I’m really looking for right now, him having quality at-bats up there. He’s in a great spot.”

Gordon Beckham also went deep in the fourth, while Brent Morel’s two hits leave him at 5-for-8 over the first four games.

And let’s not forget about Hector Santiago, who is getting extremely close to locking up the fifth spot in the White Sox bullpen. Santiago started on Thursday and held scoreless over two innings a Texas lineup featuring Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus. Santiago struck out Cruz and Hamilton.

“I just worry about the next time to go out there. I try to do the same thing every time,” said Santiago, refusing to handicap his roster status. “I just tried to go out there and not worry about who is in the box and just hit (Tyler) Flowers right in the mitt. That’s all I was trying to do.”

WHAT WENT WRONG: Gregory Infante possesses Major League stuff, but simply has trouble getting it over the plate at times. He walked three over 1 2/3 innings on Thursday.

The biggest trouble spot was the first real injury of camp suffered by Minor League prospect Brandon Short. He dislocated his left shoulder going for a Luis Martinez double in the eighth, running into the center field wall on the attempt. Short was to have a MRI done on the injured area.

WHAT’S NEXT: It’s the first of eight meetings this season between the Cubs and the White Sox, with first pitch set for 2:05 p.m. CT Friday at Camelback Ranch. Chris Sale makes his long-awaited debut as part of the starting rotation, not counting his intrasquad appearance. The two teams hook up again on March 18 in Mesa, before meeting six times during regular-season Interleague action.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: The handshakes on the field at Surprise Stadium after Anthony Carter, who had good velocity on his pitches in earning the save, retired Martinez on a ground ball double play to end Ventura’s first victory. Ventura also offered up this on-the-mark postgame quote.

“It’s good to get wins just for the psyche of guys walking on the field, shaking hands,” Ventura said. “But you know, most of the guys that you want to see do it are already driving home. It’s good for the young guys to kind of finish it off and do that, but I’m concerned about those first five innings a little more than the end right now.”

MOMENT TO FORGET: Short’s injury. Otherwise, the White Sox had a pretty solid afternoon of baseball.

Game 2: Danks gone a little wild

Robin Ventura stayed winless through two Cactus League games following the Angels’ 6-2 victory Tuesday at Diablo Stadium. Here’s a quick look at the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: After striking out twice on Monday, Gordon Beckham ripped two solid singles to left in Tuesday’s setback. It goes to show that Cactus League results aren’t nearly as important as the process to get there.

“After yesterday, you come back and you work on things and get him a little more aggressive,” said Ventura of Beckham. “He looked great.”

Matt Thornton threw a scoreless inning in relief, striking out one and giving up Albert Pujols’ double. Ventura praised Thornton’s work and then sarcastically took a jab at the pitch selection to one of the game’s top players.

“He realized Albert can hit a fastball down the middle,” a smiling Ventura said of Thornton. “So we got that out of the way.”

Keep an eye on Nate Jones, the fifth-round selection from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander who fanned 67 in 63 1/3 innings for Double-A Birmingham last season struck out three over two innings on Tuesday. Jared Mitchell also served a ninth-inning single to left.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Call it a good day of work for John Danks, who threw almost 50 pitches in two innings. The fact that almost half of those pitches were out of the strike zone made it a bit of an erratic work day for the southpaw.

“I’m just trying to throw the ball and make the ball do what I want it to do,” Danks said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t very sharp today.”

The team finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position for those keeping track of such statistics two games into spring, and Brian Omogrosso was touched up for three runs on four hits in one inning of relief.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jake Peavy goes full throttle 19 months after surgery to reattach his lat muscle when taking the mound against the Brewers on Wednesday. Peavy is scheduled to start the second game of the season in Texas.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Trayce Thompson and Gordon Beckham both picked up stolen bases in Tuesday’s loss, as the White Sox were much more aggressive on the basepaths. The White Sox don’t have a highly-touted Minor League system, but they do have young athletes who seem to be learning the game.

MOMENT TO FORGET: It’s a toss-up between two: John Danks snapping his glove in frustration on a throw back from Tyler Flowers after walking Bobby Wilson in the first, showing even Spring Training can draw anger, or Beckham’s name spelled as Beckman on the Diablo Stadium scoreboard during his two trips to the plate.

Beckham helps White Sox become more interesting

Anyone watching Wednesday’s postgame interviews with A.J. Pierzynski and Jake Peavy might have been slightly distracted by a cardboard cutout standing behind them but in camera shot.

That cutout featured the likeness of Jonathan Goldsmith, who is more commonly known as “The Most Interesting Guy in the World.”

“Man,” said Adam Dunn, quickly correcting my mistake while sitting in the White Sox clubhouse. “The Most Interesting Man.”

So, how does one of the most brilliant commercial runs in the history of advertising, representing Dos Equis, factor into the White Sox push for the postseason? It has recently become the symbol of the White Sox Player of the Game in victories, as awarded by Gordon Beckham.

The one catch is that the chosen nightly winner must work the word “interesting” into his first answer to the media following the game.

“Hopefully, he’s going to be there after games, after wins, just bringing the people up in this clubhouse. That’s the goal,” a smiling Beckham said. “It’s going to probably rotate around the player of the game, depending on who does well.

“We are going to put him, the Most Interesting Man is going to put himself in the biggest spotlight, I guess is what’s going to happen. The problem is we might not have to move him from (Paul Konerko’s) locker for the next couple of weeks because of how well he has been playing.”

Beckham received “The Most Interesting Man in the World” as a gift from a family member. Beckham brought it into the clubhouse a while ago, but then the Most Interesting Man temporarily was lost with no signs of where he disappeared.

“He finally came back,” Beckham said. “And he’s back here for a bunch of wins, I think.”

About the only way to enhance the power of the cardboard cutout would be to have Goldsmith visit the White Sox in person. Dunn called the idea “awesome,” but Beckham preached patience with the White Sox version.

“This has to pick up some speed first,” Beckham said.

And just think of the marketing gems if this good luck charm’s arrival coincides with White Sox success. Remember, this campaign already has produced the following gems:

“He has been known to cure Narcolepsy, just by walking into a room.”

“His organ donation card also lists his beard.”

“His blood smells like cologne.”

“He lives vicariously through himself.”

“Sharks have a week dedicated to him.”

“Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number.”

So, let’s say the White Sox go on a roll behind this new addition and win it all. How about this addition:

“He helped the White Sox win a World Series without throwing or hitting a pitch or even attending a game.”

Beckham feels like a .400 hitter

According to Gordon Beckham’s adjusted baseball math, the talented White Sox second baseman enters this three-game series in Texas carrying a .400 average. The official Major League Baseball statistics list Beckham as hitting .222 through 153 at-bats, so what change in scoring accounts for this huge differential?

Actually, it’s a change of feel at the plate turning Beckham into a .400 hitter.

“I told Walk (hitting coach Greg Walker) on Friday this is, in my opinion, the first game of the season because of the way I felt going into that game,” Beckham told MLB.com after Sunday’s 8-3 Interleague victory over the Dodgers. “I felt better. I felt like, ‘Let’s just start over here.’

“Since then, I’ve been hitting the ball well. Hopefully, that will continue. That main thing is I’ve been hitting balls hard and when you start doing that, you are going to get some balls to fall.”

Beckham has battled through his second high-profile slump in two seasons, after bursting on to the scene in 2009 and capturing two American League Rookie of the Year awards, which were both voted on by his peers. After hitting .199 as late as June 23 last year, Beckham rebounded to hit .310 the rest of the way and finish at .252. That number certainly would have been higher if not for a 6-for-32 Sept. finish after taking a Frank Herrmann pitch off of his right hand on Aug. 30.

In 2011, Beckham produced a trio of three-hit games and four multi-hit efforts over his first seven played. That hot start cooled considerably, with his average dipping as low as .194 at the end of April and rising to .230 or above just twice since April 20.

An off-day against Cleveland on May 19 helped him get away from a 4-for-30 slump over the past 10 games and go into this past weekend’s Dodgers series with that aforementioned new feel.

“It’s amazing what a feel will do for me. It’s just a totally different feel,” Beckham said. “It’s a relaxed feel, and when I’m relaxed, my hands work and I’m able to back up some balls and make good decisions. That’s what I’ve been doing my last three games.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been through this before. And I really feel like I’m out of it. I really feel like I’m out of that slump however long I had and my swing right now is good. It’s relaxed. It’s good. And I’m getting out of a slump a month and maybe a month and a half earlier than I did last year.

“So, you can look at that. I ended up doing what I did last year, and I can do better. I know that,” Beckham said. “It’s a matter of time before I start doing what I’m capable of doing. This weekend was just the start of it hopefully.”

His one hit on Friday was a two-run home run against Ted Lilly, and he added two hits and a walk in Saturday’s victory. The weekend concluded with a 1-for-3 showing on Sunday and three runs scored.

As Beckham indicated, there’s still plenty of ground to be gained. For example, the right-handed hitting Beckham is batting just .114 (4-for-35) against southpaws, and he’s batting .205 at U.S. Cellular Field. Beckham certainly is ready for the challenge, and to Beckham’s credit, while he has admirably dealt with a second slide on offense in two years, his defense at second has remained without fault.

“You have to play good defense,” said Beckham, who played his 61st straight errorless game on Sunday, dating back to Aug. 27, 2010. “That’s part of the reason I’m still here probably, playing defense and helping the team win, scoring some runs. Eventually the other stuff is going to come. I feel really good about where I’m at.”

Williams pulls off the perfect prank

The familiar refrain of “Stay out of White Sox business” turned to a little bit of funny business for White Sox general manager Ken Williams on Saturday afternoon. Williams used Gordon Beckham as the target of a well-crafted practical joke that would have made proud Dick Clark and the late Ed McMahon.

With about 10 minutes to go before Saturday’s non-waiver trade deadline, Williams purposefully walked through the White Sox clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field and stopped at the players’ dining area. Williams got Beckham’s attention and asked the second baseman to come with him to Ozzie Guillen’s office.

Earlier in the week, Williams had assured Beckham how he wasn’t going anywhere. So, needless to say, Beckham was stunned–much like the assembled media, whose jaws collectively dropped as Beckham walked away.

“He first invited Ozzie in and shut both doors,” said Beckham with a relieved smile, recounting the story after he was let off the hook. “I kind of thought I was going somewhere.

“Then he said, ‘Last night, your at-bat against (Brett) Anderson, where you hit it back up the middle, was just a great at-bat. Now get out of here.'”

But here’s the unintentional comic value of Williams’ move. He also caught Guillen off guard, with the manager sitting unaware of any last-minute trades in the coaches’ room when Williams came to get him.

“When you walk in on the trading deadline, No. 1, every player is looking at you out of the corner of their eye,” Williams said. “So, I walked in and called Gordon over and he had this look like ‘No. Really?’

“I called him into Ozzie’s office and Ozzie didn’t know anything about it, but he saw Beckham walk in and then saw me close the door. And he went, ‘No.’ The other coaches went ‘No.’ I had Ozzie close the door and sat Gordon down in the chair.

“Then I said, ‘Well, I would really like to say one thing to you before I get into the nuts and bolts of this stuff. That at-bat you had last night, where you pushed across that run, it was one of the best at-bats you had all year. I just want to say nice job.’ Then I shook his hand and he said, ‘That’s it?”

“And I said ‘That’s it,'” Williams said. “He had a sigh of relief. Ozzie had a sigh of relief and started cursing at me.”

One more layer of perfect timing exists within Williams’ prank. Just minutes before he called in Beckham, White Sox captain Paul Konerko threw out these words of wisdom concerning Williams’ deadline maneuvers to Beckham as the clubhouse carefully watched the deadline coverage on MLB Network.

“Konerko says, ‘You won’t believe this but one minute before you walked in, I told Gordon that this is about the time in the show where Kenny Williams says, ‘The (heck) with it. I’ll give you Gordon Beckham,'” said Williams with a laugh. “Then I walked in and called him out.

“We had a little fun with it. It’s anything you can do when you are playing well and have the intensity around you to lighten the moods up a little bit. It helps things.”

Quickly revealing the joke, though, brought the greatest happiness to both Beckham and Guillen.

“A lot of names come through my mind, where I was hoping ‘We got this guy, that guy and that guy for this kid,'” Guillen said. “(Williams) got everyone in the coaches’ room. He got everyone. It was a good practical joke, and at first, I don’t know what to say.”

“It was funny,” Beckham said. “I walked back in there and (Scott) Linebrink said, ‘That’s funny if you haven’t been traded before. When you have, that’s not that funny.’ It’s whatever. It was fun. We’re having fun.”

Beckham back to work

It was back to work as usual on Sunday for Gordon Beckham, who was inactive during the weekend trip to Tucson due to soreness in an abdominal muscle on the left side.

In fact, there was no rest for the slightly injured, as Beckham joked how he took 100 groundballs from bench coach Joey Cora before starting in Sunday’s split-squad game against Texas in Surprise.

“I told, him, ‘Thanks a lot for easing me back in,'” said Beckham with a laugh. “But it feels good. It’s a little tender, but I don’t really feel anything. I’m just glad it’s not an oblique.”

Beckham said he strained a muscle right above his left hip, pointing toward the area. Manager Ozzie Guillen, with the team in Surprise, didn’t expect to use Beckham for nine innings.

“I’ll see how he feels and go by ears to see exactly how he is,” Guillen said. “I talked to him this morning to make sure he’s not playing just to be a hero. He seems like he’s fine, but we’ll see how he is during the game.”

Rehearsing for Woodjock

I stopped by The Venue in Scottsdale for about an hour last night to check out the rehearsal for Thursday night’s Woodjock, 2010, Jake Peavy’s charity concert, presented by mycontent.com.

As soon as I arrived, I noticed an interesting looking band on the stage working tirelessly on an Eric Clapton song. There was Bronson Arroyo on vocals, Brandon Medders on lead guitar and Bernie Williams on backup lead guitar. Oh, yes, I can’t forget Barry Zito on the drums.

And they basically rocked, for lack of a better word. I was told that overall rehearsal session ran about four hours.

“I think people are going to be surprised by this show,” said Peavy, who was overseeing the rehearsal at the time I was there, sort of hinting how fans might not expect these players to be accomplished musicians.

Actually, I don’t think people will be surprised. These players taking part in the concert have the same sort of passion for music as they do for baseball, and they are pretty darn good baseball players. I expect a highly entertaining show, with a raucous crowd at this venue that has a very Old West feel to it.

Focusing on the White Sox theme, aside from the obvious front man in Peavy, both Omar Vizquel and Gordon Beckham will be singing. Ben Broussard, who was in White Sox camp last year and is now a touring musician, also will be performing his music. You can bet on many White Sox players being in the audience to lend support.

Are these players as talented behind the microphone as they are on the field? Aside from Williams, the most accomplished of the group, and Broussard, probably not. From the little I witnessed last night, though, this show truly is worth checking out on Thursday. Remember, the proceeds go to Team Focus, Strikeouts for Troops, White Sox Charities and Autism Speaks, so it’s good music for a good cause, or as the show bills itself, “a big league jam fest.”

Here’s another reason to attend Thursday’s show: I will not be singing or playing a musical instrument, for those who were worried.

Beckham joins Woodjock

The lineup for Jake Peavy’s Woodjock, 2010 concert apparently has grown by one with the addition of Gordon Beckham.

Beckham did place one condition on belting a song or two during Thursday’s show at The Venue in Old Town Scottsdale, with all Woodjock proceeds benefitting the Jake Peavy Foundation.

“I said that if I do it, (Peavy) has to be on stage, too,” said Beckham with a laugh of his participation in the event, presented by mycontent.com. “He said he wants me to do it, if I want to do it. I think he wants to see me up there.

“It will be a good event. It will be a lot of fun. But he has to be up on stage with me.”

At that point of Saturday’s conversation, Beckham turned to Peavy and asked him what song the duo would be performing. Peavy already is scheduled to be joined by musically-inclined baseball friends such as Bernie Williams, Barry Zito, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Linebrink, Tim Flannery, Ben Broussard and Brandon Medders.

Whereas other players have their CDs released or their instrument of choice listed on their biography at the Woodjock website, here’s the information for Beckham.

“Gordon is an infielder for the White Sox. In 2009, Gordon won the AL Rookie of the Month in July and the Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year.’

As for Beckham’s musical background … . Well, there isn’t much.

“In eighth grade, I was in the A Capella group,” Beckham said. “That’s it. Other than that, it’s singing in the car or shower.”

Beckham not going anywhere

During a weekend at home in early August of last season, I remember one of my esteemed colleagues asking Ozzie Guillen about rumors of the White Sox reportedly putting in a waiver claim for Toronto outfielder Alex Rios.

“Who?” Guillen responded, knowing full well who Rios was, but seeming to be somewhat surprised by this bit of personnel news involving his team.

Two days later, Rios joined the White Sox in Seattle.

There’s no question Guillen runs the White Sox. He makes the day-to-day decisions about the lineup and serves as the true face of the franchise. But by Guillen’s admission, because of his candor and honesty with the media, sometimes he finds out about moves orchestrated by general manager Ken Williams right before they happen.

Guillen might say there’s no move to be made or the team doesn’t have interest in a certain player, and to his knowledge it’s an absolutely true statement at the moment, and in 48 hours, that individual is part of a five-player deal sending him to Chicago.

I’m sharing this little vignette because Guillen was questioned after Tuesday’s B game with the Dodgers about the possibility of Gordon Beckham being moved for a high-end performer, in this instance, San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez. And Guillen’s response?

“We plan to have Gordon for a long time,” Guillen said. “I don’t see why people still talking about it.”

In this case, Guillen knows exactly what’s going on. Gordon Beckham is going nowhere but to second base for the 2010 season and probably many, many years to come.

From the time Beckham was drafted in 2008, he was compared by the White Sox to having Michael Young-like potential. That potential translates into 200 hits, 40 doubles, 20 home runs, 100 runs scored, 80 to 90 RBIs and a .300 average, offensively, on a yearly basis, and solid defense in the field. And remember, Young is one of Guillen’s favorite players not wearing a White Sox uniform.

Trading Beckham as part of an Adrian Gonzalez trade, as a purely hypothetical example, makes little sense for the White Sox. You are basically getting rid of one franchise player for another who might only be in Chicago for two years. I’m not demeaning Jayson Nix or Brent Lillibridge, both capable players and would-be hypothetical replacements at second, but Beckham is a special force.

Williams has shocked people before and he might again. Let’s say, in that hypothetical mode, Williams decides to go after a big left-handed bat through the trade market, i.e., Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, etc. I’m more interested as to what the White Sox decide to do with Daniel Hudson, who clearly is the talented young pitching every team covets, or a rising catching prospect such as Tyler Flowers, with veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the last year of his contract.

Until further notice, though, let’s stop talking about Beckham going anywhere. He is one of the few near-untouchables on the White Sox roster.

“When we get something done, we let people know what’s going on about the real thing,” Guillen said. “Right now, the expectation about this guy and that guy, I like the team we have. We have a general manager who keeps things quiet, thank God. And when he makes deals, it’s for a reason.

“Every trade the White Sox want to make, people think they’re going to make with the White Sox is Gordon, (Gavin) Floyd and (John) Danks. Those names are going to come up. And we have to deal with that every time they talk about White Sox trying to make a deal. We got to stay on our toes.”

Thome just wants to play

Jim Thome wants to play baseball

Aside from all the other intangible factors, this point has clearly been made by the veteran designated hitter both this past weekend to MLB.com at the Joyce Thome Benefit for Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria and Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Thome and his wife, Andrea, were joined by Paul and Jennifer Konerko and Gordon Beckham on the South Side of Chicago for the Grand Slam Party, benefitting Illinois foster families and celebrating the ‘Bring Me Home’ campaign in partnership with Children’s Home + Aid.

Thome followed up his expressed desire to suit up for season No. 20 with an equally strong desire to avoid talking about contract particulars.

“I would rather not get into all that stuff,” Thome said. “I just want to play baseball.”

This question deflected by Thome centered on whether years or money would make a difference in his ultimate 2010 destination. But finding the right fit stands as the most important factor for the prolific slugger.

Once again, Thome mentioned how there was talk between his camp and a few teams. As for a return to the White Sox, Thome said with a smile that he hadn’t closed down this option from his side.

“My door is open,” Thome said. “All you have to do is call me.

“From my end, everyone knows I love Chicago. It’s a great city, and the organization has treated me great for the last four years. It has been a pleasure to play here and be part of it for the last four years.

“So, we’ll see what happens,” Thome said. “In baseball, you learn how business moves are made and decisions are made. You respect those decisions and move on.”

Other interesting fits in the American League Central for Thome would be Kansas City, who could use a veteran bat at DH, or Minnesota, where a great deal of mutual respect exists, but a full-time DH spot is not open. Konerko, the White Sox captain and a good friend of Thome, said he’s campaigned for Thome to return and won’t really deal with the departure of Thome or Jermaine Dye until he arrives at Spring Training and they aren’t there.

Here’s an idea: What if the White Sox announce a Thome one-year deal Friday as the players are introduced for SoxFest? It’s unlikely to happen, but how’s that for drama?

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