GLENDALE, Ariz. – Gordon Beckham’s tough-love offseason talk with his father set him straight. The message was clear: Stop being somebody else and get back to being yourself.
“We talked it out, and [when I asked] ‘What do you see?’ he said what he saw was not me,” Beckham said. “ ‘You can either act like the guy you’ve been acting like and roll over and die or be the guy you were and let it loose.’ It’s hard to hear when your dad says he didn’t recognize who you were. But it’s what I needed to hear. I knew I needed to change. I changed.”
Beckham needs to be the player he was as a rookie in 2009, when he batted .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBI.
“We’re still waiting for him to take his game to the next level,” general manager Ken Williams said.
The expectations that accompany past production can’t be an issue for him, Beckham said.
“It’s not important,” he said.
The important thing, he stressed, is to play with courage. Beckham’s confidence was high in the field and almost gone at the plate.
“Yeah, I lost a little bit,” he said. “That was the main thing I had to figure out. Back to being me. Me is not a tentative person. That’s not how I roll.
“It’s not my swing. My swing is fine. I’ve tweaked some stuff. But it’s more about the guy who is swinging the bat.”
Humber beefs up
Philip Humber gained 20 pounds by eating more while maintaining his usual active workout routine over the winter.
Humber’s first half (8-5, 3.10 ERA) was better than his second half (1-4, 5.01 ERA), although it wasn’t a case of arm strength. His fastball gained a couple miles per hour as the season went on.
Humber wants to pitch 200 innings after throwing 163 last season.
“It sounds ridiculous for a starting pitcher to complain about feeling tired, but repeating that same motion, going down that hill over and over again, your body starts to kind of break down,” Humber said. “Talking to guys who threw 200, that’s a lot of repetition moving in a direction that’s not natural for your body to move. The more you can do to counteract that, the better off you’ll be.”
Brent Lillibridge, who has three gloves in his locker, took grounders at first base and third base. Lillibridge came up as a shortstop and could be used at all four infield positions and all three outfielder spots. With Omar Vizquel gone, the Sox need a backup or two at third, short and second. Ozzie Martinez and Eduardo Escobar are also in that mix.
Lillibridge’s versatility should keep him in baseball for a good while.
“It’s a big year for me personally, just to get into arbitration and hopefully get a big payday for myself,” Lillibridge said, “but also hopefully get a lot of at-bats and really help this team.”
The main Manto
Sox hitters’ first impressions of new hitting coach Jeff Manto have been positive. Manto spent one-on-one cage time with Alex Rios and Adam Dunn, among others. He talked about mind-set with Rios, and he had Dunn hitting off a tee and focusing on mechanics.
“I like him,” Dunn said. “He’s a good dude.”