Fields waiting for his role to be defined
Top prospect Beckham starts at third base Thursday
CHICAGO -- Josh Fields found himself in a state of flux hours before Thursday afternoon's contest at U.S. Cellular Field.
The 26-year-old had not talked with any of the higher-ups in the White Sox organization concerning his new role following the callup of Gordon Beckham from Triple-A Charlotte. But with the White Sox top pick from the 2008 First-Year Player Draft starting at third base in the series finale against the A's, the lineup card basically spoke volumes.
Any other doubt as to Beckham's new job was removed by Thursday comments from manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams, anointing Beckham as the present starter at the hot corner.
Fields took the "work hard and see what happens" sort of attitude when asked about the apparent loss of his starting job. But he also didn't seem remotely ready to move into full-time work as a reserve player.
"I think we would definitely sit down and talk before then," Fields told MLB.com of his move to a backup role. "If that's the direction they are seeing it, we would have to sit down and talk.
"They obviously want to do what's best for the team, but I want to do what's best for myself, as well. I don't feel that 26 is definitely a reserve role kind of age. We'll see how it plays out. I expect to be talked to here before long."
Given the job of replacing Joe Crede at third in 2009, as Fields did so capably when Crede was injured in '07, Fields batted .257 with a .360 on-base percentage through April. Those numbers dipped to .212 and .285, respectively, on May 22, but Fields since has brought that average back up to .244 entering Wednesday.
A propensity to strike out hurt Fields, who ranks fifth in the American League with 54. Wilson Betemit's inability to serve as a capable backup at third also facilitated the move, and Beckham certainly wasn't brought up to ride the bench.
Guillen and Williams talked about Fields getting at-bats at designated hitter, as he did on Thursday, and even backing up Paul Konerko at first base. But Fields wasn't certain of his direction as of Thursday morning.
"Until they sit down and explain everything to me, I'm just showing up, and when I'm playing, I'm playing," Fields said. "You know, I'm just going to go with it.
"I'm feeling good, and I think with the way I've been hitting, I'll be in the lineup. That's how I feel. If they see it differently, it's their team."
Williams believes Fields' future still will play out on the South Side of Chicago.
"This is by no means an indication we're giving up on Josh," Williams said. "But you guys understand we're all about winning here, and if there's a chink in our armor, we've got to fix it. And there's a little bit of a chink in our armor in that area."
"It's probably a little disappointing, but like I said, I don't know the situation," Fields said. "Until it's broken down and explained to me, I'll just be sitting here thinking I'm still playing third."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.