ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – It’s become an on-going South Side trilogy – “The Sitting of Gordon Beckham Part III.”
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s hope now is this latest benching of the second-year infielder isn’t unfolding into a tragedy.
“Try and give Beckham other break, give him a couple days off and see how it helps,” Guillen said on Sunday. “We do everything we can to get this kid going. He’s swinging the bat a little bit better right now. There’s no doubt. But in the meanwhile, it’s hard to see day in and day out, go through the same stuff, same at-bats. It’s funny because every time he hits the ball hard it’s right at people.
“The most satisfaction for any manager is to win games, but besides win games, it’s when your players play good, enjoy the season and have everything going for them. There’s nothing worse than to see your players struggle and suffer, they don’t know how to come out of that. It’s not easy. If you don’t feel for the guys, it’s easier. You don’t care about those guys it’s easier to say, ‘F— it, I don’t care what they’re doing.’ In the meanwhile, you have those feelings and the relationships with the players is good enough, you feel for them. Maybe they don’t believe that, maybe they don’t even care about that, but you do. You want them to do good. Every time they hit the ball hard right at people, it hurts.”
The 23-year-old Beckham has his own issues to deal with. Besides hitting .167 without an extra-base hit in the month of May, now he has to deal with everyone around him chirping in with their own advice.
“Everyone wants to give their two cents,” Beckham admitted. “You always appreciate it, but most of the time, people really don’t know what you’re going through. The good news is I’m out of my head. I feel like I’m going up there and having good at-bats and swinging the bat well and it’s getting through the zone very quick. I can’t control where it goes, but a lot of people want to give their input.”
Beckham said that checking his Facebook page has even become an adventure these days.
“Obviously, you don’t want to hear something like, ‘You’re doing this,’ ” Beckham continued. “Like someone posted on my Facebook page about my swing. I had no idea who he is. He said I was flying open, which is definitely not what I’m doing.
“I don’t know if I de-friended him. I erased the post. But I can only look at what I’ve done recently, and what I’ve done recently is enough to get it done. It’s just that not everything is falling for me.”
The question the Sox have to start weighing is would Beckham be better off trying to get his confidence back in the minor leagues or do they ride out the storm and hope he learns a valuable lesson from it?
“I don’t truly believe that if you send a player to the minor leagues you lose him,” Guillen explained. “I remember they sent Jack McDowell down, they sent Jon Garland down, they’ve sent a lot of guys down. They came out and bounced back. I don’t believe if they send this guy down – not just him, any guy – I don’t think we’ll lose him, that he might not get his confidence back in the big leagues.
“Our choices [up here] are pretty thin. Backup [Omar] Vizquel and [Jayson] Nix back there? In the meanwhile, it’s not my call. It’s my call when I see the players don’t play hard for me or I don’t see the player go about his business the right way. Then it’s my call. But send people down to get a break, that’s someone else’s call. My job is to try and put him in the best situation where he can have success and go from there.
“He’s playing hard, he’s handling it real well. That’s surprising me. Maybe that thing is killing him inside, maybe he wants to kill himself, but he goes out there about his business, handles it the right way, like a pro. It might be something he learns from. That happened to one of the best players I’ve ever played around, it happened to Robin [Ventura]. And Robin handled it pretty well and came out and was a superstar.”
The Sox can only hope for a similar ending.