Robin Ventura has a simple message for second baseman Gordon Beckham after a disappointing 2011 season:
“I just want him to play and not worry about going 8-for-10,” the new White Sox manager said. “I get where he’s at and the pressure. I understand where he’s at and what he’s gone through. I saw him when he was drafted and he’s a very talented kid.”
The same message is coming from general manager Ken Williams. “I want him to play to win and I want him to have fun,” he said.
It’s a message Beckham penned for himself in the off season.
“This year is going to be a good year. I just know it. I feel different mentally. I can feel it,” Beckham said Friday. “I feel good and my swing is there. You know it when you see it. You know where you’re at.
“For me, it’s about getting back to being me. It’s not about anything else. There’s no magic excuse. [I was] swinging at bad pitches, and that’s being anxious.”
Beckham’s 2011 was far from the rebound season he hoped for. His average fell from .252 in 2010 to .230 while his strikeouts climbed from 92 to 111. Beckham wasn’t the only Sox hitter to struggle, but a new season, with a new manager and coaching staff, is about turning a page.
“There’s only one Ozzie [Guillen], but Robin’s going to be great,” Beckham said. “He’s a pretty special guy and there’s a reason they chose him. It seems like Robin has surrounded himself with good guys [as coaches.] I know Joe McEwing from the minors, and the others are guys who have played in the big leagues who produced, and that’s what you need.”
His personal turnaround path started in December when he began hitting and working to correct what he thought were flaws in his swing.
“I worked on what I needed to do to get back to being me,” he said. “I can tell the way [the bat] comes through the zone. I think what I’m doing will hold up.
More important is his sense of mental confidence, and a positive outlook he sees Ventura fostering.
“Robin said we have to be a positive clubhouse,” he said. “It’s such a negative game and you have to stay positive or it will beat you down. I let it beat me down last year. But I made a decision not to be that guy [this year.] I won’t forget about . I’ll remember everything about it, but I don’t want it to Âhappen again.”