7/7/2013 1:42 P.M. ET
Competitive Beckham pushing to new heights
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carrying a robust .336 average into Sunday's series finale against the Rays, Gordon Beckham uses one word to define how he's feeling as a baseball player.
And that word is competitive.
"That's what you want to feel," Beckham said. "You want to have an idea of what [the pitcher] is doing and an idea of what you would do well off of him and just go compete. It's the end all, be all. You got to try to compete."
Beckham has done more than compete during the 2013 season, giving the White Sox consistent production from the bottom of the order over 37 games. A fractured hamate bone in his left hand has been the only thing able to slow down Beckham, who has used all parts of the field to find offensive consistency.
This success is not surprising to the 26-year-old already playing in his fifth big league season. Beckham primed himself for this latest breakthrough at the end of the 2012 campaign.
"I feel like I turned the corner in terms of, 'Let's go play baseball.' I know what I'm trying to do," Beckham said. "I've been here long enough to understand what you go through and the highs and the lows. So I'm trying to manage those as good as I can.
"It's a lot easier to do obviously with the success, but the successes come because of the way I've handled it internally. So, you know, yeah, it's a good thing. I'm just in a good spot. Mentally, physically, everything, I just feel good. I feel like I'm not in constant scramble mode going into a game and just not knowing that I've got it."
Playing shortstop in reserve emerged as a new responsibility for one of the American League's top fielding second basemen. Beckham moved across the middle infield for two innings of Friday's loss, giving regular shortstop Alexei Ramirez his first two innings off this year.
Aside from not getting any ground balls, Beckham enjoyed the action and made a routine play on a Kelly Johnson popup to end the eighth. Beckham already moved from third to second following his 2009 rookie year and understands that the White Sox possess a top-notch shortstop in Ramirez.
If the situation dictated another position switch sometime in the future, the one-time shortstop at Georgia doesn't seem bothered by the possibility.
"You know what, I think that I could do it. I think I would be solid," Beckham said. "I'm not going to be the guy that goes out there and makes spectacular play after spectacular play. I don't know what that means, if that's good. I feel like it's a possibility. But I don't know if it's my first choice.
"Second base is my best position. But you know, no, it wouldn't bother me. I want to play, so if that's where I need to play to play, then that's where I'll play. Growing up, I always wanted to be a big league shortstop. So you think about finally getting over there. It was worth the wait I guess."
Peavy sees pieces in place for quick rebound
ST. PETERSBURG -- The White Sox entered Sunday's contest with the Rays 16 games under .500, 13 games out of first place in the American League Central and trying to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season.
As veteran right-hander Jake Peavy said Sunday, the White Sox have "to lay in the bed we made." But Peavy also looks around at a top-flight pitching staff in place and a team that was as fundamentally sound as any in baseball last year, despite this year's severe regression, and believes the White Sox are not in line for any prolonged contention drought.
"I don't see us in the situation as say some teams that are talked about around the league," Peavy told MLB.com. "This team here can really, really pitch. We have good offensive players, too.
"We have what it takes. You watched this same team play good baseball last year. You look at a team like Boston, talked about toward the end of last year as one of the worst teams in the league, and they are almost 20 games over .500 playing as good of baseball as you can play now.
"I don't see this team as going on some long, long rebuilding where you can chalk up the next three or four years," Peavy said. "I can't see that happening. I certainly hope that's not the case."
Peavy reported general soreness after his 53-pitch bullpen session Friday, but the good kind of soreness coming from the raising of his workload. He will throw a simulated game Tuesday in Detroit as the next recovery step from a fractured rib on his left side, and Peavy understands that recovery could lead to a deal before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
It's not what Peavy wanted when he returned to the White Sox with a two-year, $29 million deal this past offseason before free agency began. But he also is fully aware that when a team projected to contend ultimately underachieves, moves will come regardless of the future prospects.
A healthy Peavy could warrant a young impact talent in return.
"Obviously leaving Chicago would be such a bummer for me in a ton of ways. I don't want to leave the relationships and the city," Peavy said. "I came back here because I felt like there was a little bit of unfinished business for the team in general.
"There's nothing more that I want than to be a part of a winner here in Chicago with this group of guys. We'll see how it plays out. I'm open to anything and I'll do everything I'm asked to do. If that's staying here, I'll be happy to do that. If that means to move, then that's something we'll address and be OK with when that time comes."
Santiago changes routine in effort to fix slow starts
ST. PETERSBURG -- Hector Santiago has been searching for any solution to cure his early-game issues as a starter, with an ERA of 4.55 over his first three innings pitched dropping to 3.13 from innings four through six.
Throwing his side bullpen session on Saturday after Wednesday's start instead of the usual Friday session is one change that Santiago hopes facilitates other positives.
"Me and [pitching coach Don Cooper] were talking, and we were like, 'Let's move it back to tomorrow, get you closer, move it one day to get you that feel from the bullpen closer to the game,'" Santiago said. "'Take advantage of that first inning instead of having the two days off and that grind to get through the first inning.'
"You get that one day instead of having two days off, of getting that feel off the mound. That's been for me, it has been that tough or long inning in the first or second. After that, your pitch count goes lower and I have a max 20 pitches from there on out."
Santiago threw a career-high 123 pitches against the Orioles, which is the reason Cooper points to for the bullpen adjustment. In fact, Santiago has topped 100 pitches in four of his last five starts.
Aside from those first- or second-inning blues, though, Santiago feels great.
"We are looking at this guy to pitch and stay strong all year," said Cooper. "We limit sidelines a lot of times or skip them sometimes. Or we'll do a Day 3 and just do light touch and feel sometimes.
"I kind of look at myself as the activity coordinator and making sure that you are going to be starting and going every five or six days. You are going 200 innings. I don't need another 75 in the bullpen or high intensity. I just need touch and feel."
As for Santiago's slow starts within a start, Cooper doesn't believe the issue is physical.
"It's focus and I think it's commitment. I think it's approach," Cooper said. "Those are the things that come to mind with him. I also think that when you think about it, this is his second year in the big leagues and he's on a process. There's an asterisk there, too, because now he's starting."
Sale's reputation growing despite win-loss record
ST. PETERSBURG -- Both Luke Scott and Sam Fuld connected for run-scoring singles off Chris Sale during Saturday's 3-0 Rays victory. Their success didn't diminish their respect for one of the American League's leaders in almost every starting pitching category but wins and win percentage.
"If you look at his numbers, it doesn't inspire confidence. Unfortunately, I did look at those numbers before the game," Fuld said. "In some ways, you just simplify your approach and shorten up with a guy who has outstanding stuff like that. Luke had the same sort of approach."
Scott's run-scoring double as part of a two-run second became the first extra-base hit for a left-handed hitter in 76 at-bats against Sale this season. Scott was not surprised.
"He's really, really tough on lefties," Scott said. "He's tough on righties, too, but with his arm angle for lefties, it gives a lot of trouble, and then it's the combination of stuff and the ability to control different parts of the zone with it. He locates his fastball, his slurve, his changeup, too.
"As a hitter, it's something that you're not used to. He throws it out of the same release point. If he didn't do that, you would be able to pick up on it, but you're getting ready for anywhere from 93 to 97 [mph] and it makes it tough to stay back on that breaking ball."
That respect for Sale extends beyond the playing field and into the dugout, as it was AL and Detroit manager Jim Leyland who picked Sale for his second straight All-Star appearance. Sale can prove Leyland's pick accurate, making Sale the seventh pitcher in White Sox history to be selected for consecutive All-Star squads, when he faces the Tigers on Thursday in Detroit.
"Yeah, hopefully, I don't thank him with a win. Hopefully I can turn things around," Sale said. "It makes me feel good that's for sure -- especially one of our rivals in our division.
"I've got all the respect in the world for [Leyland]. I've always enjoyed his competition and playing against that team. I'm very thankful for him doing that for me."
Third to first
• Sunday's lineup featured eight right-handed hitters and Blake Tekotte against left-hander David Price, with Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza getting a break. Manager Robin Ventura put Ramirez first, Beckham second, Jeff Keppinger cleanup and Josh Phegley fifth.
• First-time All-Star Jesse Crain didn't travel with the team this weekend after being temporarily shut down because of the strained right shoulder that put him on the disabled list Wednesday. Crain plans to begin his rehab program Monday, when the White Sox return home to take on the Cubs.
• For just the third time in the history of the All-Star Final Vote, the White Sox are without a candidate. They also were shut out in 2007 and 2009. Scott Podsednik beat out Derek Jeter among others in 2005, A.J. Pierzynski won in '06 and Paul Konerko was the AL pick in 2011. Their 10 overall candidates leads the Majors, while their three wins leave them tied with Boston and Philadelphia.
• Dewayne Wise went 1-for-2 with a RBI in his injury rehab contest (strained right oblique) for Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday.