Beckham shoots to The Show
Infielder called up 364 days after selection in '08 Draft
CHICAGO -- At some time after 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, Gordon Beckham lay in his bed in Charlotte, television off and tried to get some sleep.
"I sat there for 20 minutes and that was about it," said Beckham with a laugh, sitting in the White Sox dugout and talking to the media mass hours before his Major League debut on Thursday. "I turned the TV back on and said, 'There's no way I'm sleeping. I'm not even trying to do this.'"
Beckham might have been a little bleary-eyed when he arrived in Chicago early Thursday, but sleep deprivation certainly hasn't dampened his confidence. It was that same sort of bravado, bordering on cockiness in a positive way, which caught the White Sox collective eye during this past Spring Training. His immense talent also didn't hurt Beckham's cause for quick promotion.
The infielder's contract was purchased from Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday, bringing an end to the brief Wilson Betemit era in Chicago. More importantly, the move started what is expected to be the extremely bright future for the organization's top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Just 364 days after being selected eighth overall on June 5, 2008, Beckham was in Thursday's starting lineup at third base, wearing jersey No. 15. He became the fastest White Sox position player drafted in the first round to debut since shortstop Lee Richard was taken No. 6 overall in 1970, before making the White Sox Opening Day roster in 1971.
This move partially has to do with the team's ultimate confidence in Beckham, 22, being able to compete at the next level of competition. It also has to do with the White Sox making every improvement possible to continue evolving into a championship-caliber team.
"If we were completely satisfied with what we were getting, offensively and defensively, we wouldn't have to make the move," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. "But we're always in a constant state of trying to improve the club, and we think this is going to give us a chance to improve offensively, defensively [and] athletically. And [it will] further what we've done as a transitional period to get our team more athletic, and along the lines of what we think it's going to take to win games as we head into this new era."
"Obviously it's not my decision," said Beckham of getting the early call to the Majors. "I worked hard down there, and I'm still working. But I didn't want to put anything past the White Sox. It's their decision ultimately, and I wanted to make it as hard as I possibly could. I think it worked out."
According to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the battle for playing time primarily will exist between Beckham and Josh Fields at third base. Guillen has no intention of moving Chris Getz out of his starting job at second.
Clearly there will be days when shortstop Alexei Ramirez needs a rest, and Beckham could even be used in the designated hitter role on occasion. But there's no doubt Beckham was brought up to play a regular, everyday role, and that role won't change even if he struggles mightily at the outset.
"We're certainly not going into it with the idea that we're going to send him down," Williams said. "In fact, I have it in my mind, even if he does struggle initially, sort of along the lines of Robin Ventura and his struggles when he came up, if you believe in the talent, you believe in the talent. We believe, so he's going to get plenty of opportunities.
"It's not dissimilar to the way we treated Joe Crede when he came up and struggled. People wanted him out of here -- or Aaron Rowand or Jon Garland -- we can go down the list. We've shown we have some patience when we believe in the talent."
Good-natured ribbing over the hype surrounding Beckham's arrival already began on Thursday morning. As Guillen was getting ready to go to his morning media session, he took a look into the batting cages and then called for the Comcast SportsNet cameras.
"He's taking flips right now," said Guillen of Beckham. "You probably want to get this on camera."
And when a group of media circled around Getz to interview him Thursday, Getz smiled and said, "You know I'm not Beckham." Their lockers are located next to each other in the White Sox clubhouse.
With Beckham hitting .322 in 59 Minor League games during his abbreviated lower-level career, the White Sox know Beckham has the ability to continue this show of excellence following the promotion. A couple of players also added that the energy and excitement brought by the outgoing Beckham will benefit the team.
About the only thing that could have made the experience perfect for Beckham was a little bit of sleep, after being awake for the past 24 hours.
"An unbelievable moment for me," said Beckham of his Major League debut. "It's been a long time, not necessarily in the Minor Leagues getting ready, but I've worked hard all my life in baseball to get to where I'm at, and it's finally paid off. I'm here and I'm going to have a lot of fun.
"I try to be fundamentally sound, and it doesn't always work out. I love to play, and that's the thing that motivates me the most. I love to be energetic and bring something to the team. Have fun. That's my goal, and that's what I'm all about.
"For people who haven't seen me yet," Beckham added with a smile, "come watch."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.