Beckham may get a mental break
Second baseman admits to slump affecting him
CHICAGO -- When the White Sox lineup for Friday's contest with Toronto comes out in the early afternoon, Gordon Beckham's name just might be absent.
His temporary benching, and temporary is the key word in this scenario, certainly would not be punishment doled out by Ozzie Guillen for Beckham's 0-for-4 showing during Thursday's 2-0 loss to Toronto or the two errors Beckham committed at second base. It would be more of a mental health break for Beckham.
By the 23-year-old's own admission, his season-long slump is starting to take its toll mentally on a usually strong-willed White Sox player.
"I'm so frustrated with the way that I'm playing that it's gotten into my head mentally and it's causing my body to look like I don't want to be out there and that's not me," said Beckham, after Thursday's rough performance dropped his average to .198. "I've grown up knowing how to play the game the right way and I haven't been doing it in the last couple days.
"I struggled last year but I think this is different. Last year, I still could come out of it just because it was my first year and it was all new. This is a little different just because it's, I feel like, I guess my expectations are really high and when your expectations are really high and you're struggling, it's tough when you struggle."
Beckham's rookie stumble out of the gate has been well documented. The eighth pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft started his big league career hitless in 13 at-bats and just 2-for-28. But once Beckham started hitting, sometime around 20 games in, he produced like an All-Star.
His 2009 final numbers consisting of a .270 average, 14 home runs, 28 doubles and 63 RBIs were good enough to earn Beckham two American League Rookie of the Year honors as voted on by his peers. Five weeks into the 2010 season, Beckham is dealing with his second prolonged rough patch at the plate and has grown tired of the slump and the questions surrounding it.
"You all have to ask these questions and I totally understand," Beckham said. "It's tough for me when I'm struggling to say the same thing two weeks straight. I want you all to be coming up to me and asking how it feels to come out of it, how it feels to get three knocks and five RBIs.
"That's what I want. I know you have to walk before you run, but that's what I want. I can't work any harder so I know the work will pay off. People who work hard, good things happen. People who take stuff for granted, those are the people where things don't go their way."
Courtesy of six walks drawn over the three games against Kansas City, the confident White Sox second baseman witnessed encouraging signs of an offensive breakthrough during the first series of this homestand.
"Six walks, that total probably is the most walks in three games I ever had in my life, which is good," Beckham said. "There has been some, especially [Wednesday], there were a couple of pitches that I missed that I normally hit but those didn't come in the walks. They came in the outs I made.
"It's encouraging how I'm seeing the ball well. I'm having good takes. It's always a good part of a good at-bat. Seeing a ball, knowing it's a ball and not even offering. And the pitches I am swinging at, I'm taking good swings and fouling them back.
"I'm a tick off, just a tick off," Beckham said. "It's coming. There are a lot of positives. It's just frustrating to keep saying this stuff."
That good feeling for Beckham briefly crumbled on Thursday via three strikeouts, giving him a team-high 24. His slow walk away from the plate after ending the eighth and his fielding error to start the ninth caused Guillen to talk to Beckham after the loss.
Guillen isn't as concerned about Beckham's slump, as much as he wants better body language and to not let the offensive woes get the best of him. Beckham wholeheartedly agreed.
"I'll regroup and definitely play the game the right way and I got away from it the last couple of days and I'm one step above embarrassed for that because I don't feel like I wasn't trying hard," Beckham said. "I was. It just didn't work out."
"Gordon is better than what he show," Guillen said. "There's a lot of pressure on him and maybe this is the first time ever he's gone through this. He's the golden boy. I don't believe in the sophomore jinx. I want him to be the best player he can be because this kid has a great chance to be a [good] ballplayer."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.