Beckham will start -- somewhere
First-rounder has shot at second for Sox, or could be sent down
PHOENIX -- There is no truth to the rumor that Gordon Beckham healed the sick and consulted with President Barack Obama on the struggling economy during the White Sox off-day on Tuesday.
But as "Beckham-mania" swirls around Glendale, White Sox general manager Ken Williams confirmed on Wednesday that the talented infielder has the same chance as any other second-base candidate to win the job. There's only one restriction attached to Beckham's Major League selection.
"Oh, yes. He's starting at that position or starting in the Minors," said Williams during a talk just prior to Wednesday's 6-2 Cactus League victory over the Brewers at Camelback Ranch. "That's the only caveat I'm going to put on Ozzie and his coaching staff."
If the 22-year-old Beckham is in play with Chris Getz, Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge, the question of Beckham's minuscule professional experience immediately arises. Along with his .368 average, two home runs and six RBIs this spring, Beckham played just 14 games for Class A Kannapolis after his selection last year.
Williams pointed out how there's a little bit more heft to Beckham's resume from the Arizona Fall League, not that it truly matters in the decision-making process. Beckham hit .394 against a talent level considered between Double-A and Triple-A, along with going against some hurlers who Williams believes should become solid big league pitchers.
"He's just like anyone else here at that position," said Williams of Beckham. "At the end of the day, if we decide he's the better player and the right fit, we aren't afraid to take him with us."
That fit intangible ultimately might push Beckham to a Minor League start, moreso than the experience factor. Beckham is an outgoing and confident kid who seems to be a great clubhouse fit among the established veteran core.
In regard to the skill set needed at second, though, the edge might swing to Getz. Williams spoke Wednesday of the ability possessed by Nix, sidelined for one week now with soreness in his right quad, along with Nix having "a more conducive swing to come off the bench."
Getz, meanwhile, can do the "little things," such as getting bunts down, moving runners and playing Ozzie's small ball.
"Mind you, we like our guys at one and two and eight and nine to play that brand of manufacturing baseball," sad Williams, with the starting second baseman almost certain to hit in one of those slots. "It's not just about who has the most raw talent among the players. It's about how he fits in the overall attack, defensively, offensively or what have you."
Even if Beckham doesn't break with the White Sox, this competition won't end as of April 4 or 5. It's not as if Getz wins the job, for example, then he's the second baseman until the end of the 2009 campaign.
Beckham has made his presence known in the balmy temperatures of Arizona. He could be the starter at second base on Opening Day against the Royals, he could be the starter come May or June, or his time could be in 2010.
It's an ongoing battle understood by the other candidates competing with the phenom.
"I'm one of those guys who always has to battle," Getz said. "Nothing will be handed to me, nor should it be. Beckham is in the mix now, or he will be soon if he's not. It's really going to be nonstop competition."
"We are not into giving them any status updates, if that's what you are asking," Williams said. "They are here to compete. I don't mind putting people in position to compete for a job. You either get the best or the worst out of them. You see how they react at that point."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.