07/02/09 8:45 PM ET
Beckham raises average 100 points
White Sox youngster gets more comfortable at the plate
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
But Beckham already had grown accustomed to sleepless nights since coming up to the Major Leagues just short of one month ago. Having your average sitting in the .125 to .175 range, when you are capable of so much more, has a way of keeping a hitter such as Beckham up late.
"Oh, my God, you have no idea," said Beckham with a laugh, concerning the early struggles playing on his mind. "It's nice to go to bed and know that even if I go 0-for-4, I won't drop down to .100.
"I can go out and play and have fun. I mean, I've had fun, but I can concentrate on helping this team win and have fun doing it."
As of June 25, Beckham was hitting a not-so-robust .172. Since that day, Beckham has an amazing 12 hits in 21 at-bats, including an 8-for-11 showing during a three-game sweep at Cleveland. He entered Thursday's series opener at Kauffman Stadium hitting .278.
That's right -- the phenom the White Sox selected eighth overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft has raised his average more than 100 points in one week. The secret to Beckham's recent success simply has been relaxing the specific parts of his swing to create a greater sum total against the opposition.
"The one mechanical adjustment we did make was to loosen up my shoulders and my hands," Beckham said. "We kind of figured out I was way too tight, and that comes from the stress of trying to hit in the big leagues.
"From gripping the bat hard to tight shoulders and not having that loose upper body, it would make me swing all with my shoulders, turning my body, as opposed to letting my hands do most of the work, which is what you are supposed to do. We just freed up my hands, which is my best attribute.
"I'm getting to the inside pitches and staying on the outside, too," Beckham added. "I've worked a lot with [hitting coach Greg Walker], and the work we did in the cage was really good."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen likes how Beckham is staying up the middle to right field, but he also gave credit to veterans such as A.J. Pierzynski, Jim Thome and Paul Konerko for helping make Beckham's transition to the Majors a smooth one. Of course, it has become a great deal smoother when Beckham traded in a 2-for-28 start for his current torrid stretch.
"Just last night, I was messing around and figured that if you take away the 2-for-28, I'm doing great, excellent," said a smiling Beckham. "I'm showing I can do it, and obviously, it has been a lot easier than it was in the first three weeks."
"A lot of times, you see with young players when they scuffle early on, they try to get bigger and harder instead of calming down and softening," Walker said. "His body is quieting down, and that's a reason he's becoming a lot more accurate. He's not trying to do too much, but he's still driving the ball."
It's not a mere coincidence that the White Sox have improved as a team with hitters such as Beckham and Chris Getz improving at the bottom of the order. That team success also has made the big league experience even more enjoyable for Beckham.
"I've made some strides, and it's a lot easier for me, personally," Beckham said. "I don't feel like I'm letting anyone down right now, which is good."
"His effort level was way too high," Walker said. "He was making decisions too early. He was trying to do too much. It's understandable with young players, coming up here and trying to help the team win. But he's made some nice adjustments."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.