It’s working. So maybe the White Sox don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Gordon Beckham has been very good in his role as occasional starter, late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-hitter. He has respectable .262/.333/.452 slash line numbers (average, on-base, slugging), is 2-for-6 as a pinch-hitter and hasn’t made an error playing in 25 of the Sox’ 31 games including nine starts at third base. He has appeared in two games at second base and one at shortstop, where he was scheduled to start a scrubbed game Baltimore because of the postponement there for security reasons, at shortstop.
Does Beckham, 28, want to play more? Of course he does.
“Any competitor wants to be on the field as much as they possibly can,’’ he said with a grin. “I like to play.”
For a team that ranks 14th in defense in the American League, a case could be made. He’s better defensively at third than left-handed hitting Conor Gillaspie (five errors) and has been given starts against right-handed pitchers. He would have been better at second than rookie Micah Johnson (three), who got sent down to AAA Charlotte Thursday. But in a starter’s role at second base in seasons past, Beckham’s offense lagged, and the Sox finally traded him and his .221 average to the Los Angeles Angels. There, in much the same role he’s playing now, he was much better. Good enough for general manager Rick Hahn to bring him back to do the same thing in Chicago.
And it’s working.
“It’s fun,” said Beckham, who had a walkoff single against Reds flamethrower Aroldis Chapman on Sunday. “This is the role I’ve been given so I’m going to do the best I can in that role,’’ Beckham said.
Carlos Sanchez will be the everyday second baseman starting Friday when the Sox open a three-game series in Oakland. Sanchez is considered a better defender than Johnson, can play multiple infield positions and is hitting .344. He was named International League player of the week twice this season.
His promotion was due. A fielding infield of Gillaspie, Alexei Ramirez, Johnson and Jose Abreu from third to first has been far from a team strength. Ramirez has made five errors and Abreu two, and the errors throughout the infield tell only part of the defensive shortcomings.
Pitchers perform with more confidence knowing defenders have their backs, and Chris Sale’s two consecutive bad starts – in which pitching coach Don Cooper said the lefty tried striking hitters out with strike one — suggest the defensive issues are getting in the pitchers’ heads.
With Beckham, Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio and former Gold Glove first baseman Adam LaRoche manning the infield against the Brewers Wednesday, the Sox played an errorless game behind Jose Quintana and won 4-2.
“We’re playing a little bit better,’’ Beckham said of the Sox, who have won three consecutive series. “The focus is to win the series and we’ve been doing that. So there’s not more emphasis on anything, just showing up every day, trying to win a game and win a series. It’s simple stuff.
“We’ve had a lot of weird moments in the early part of the season. You talk about going to Baltimore and not playing two games because of what is going on there. And there were rainouts. We’ve had a lot of off days. It’s just been an extremely weird way to start a season. I don’t know any other way to explain it, and honestly we haven’t been able to get into a rhythm.’’