<
>

Beckham not living up to early promise

Will the real Gordon Beckham please stand up -- and be counted on to hit at least .275 in the Major Leagues.

The Chicago White Sox second baseman has been going downhill at the plate since his breakout 2009 campaign that produced a third-place finish in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

Once again, early season struggles from Beckham have raised the question whether or not a trip to the minor leagues would be the fastest way to solve his hitting woes.

With 10 strikeouts in 22 at-bats this season heading into Monday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, the swing-and-miss factor for Beckham has some Sox officials concerned.

“What we are trying to do with him is slow his body down,” hitting coach Jeff Manto said. “He is really anxious right now. He is charging into balls and just mis-hitting them. The way we slow him down is keep him tall (standing straight up) and make him believe what he has now is enough.”

Beckham had a fine rookie season, hitting .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs. All three numbers are still career highs as he enters his fourth big league season.

Some people, including Sox GM Kenny Williams, believed that a change in the hitting coach position would give Beckham and other struggling hitters from 2011 a new voice to listen to this season. So far Manto hasn’t seen any better result from his work with Beckham than his predecessor, Greg Walker, had.

“He is working hard each day,” Manto said. “He needs to have a plan on each pitch and in each at-bat. The problem right now is he is trying to get hits rather than have good at-bats. So before this thing gets away from us, we will slow him down and implement a plan.”

Coming into Monday’s game Beckham was hitting .136 with no home runs or RBIs. The 25-year-old Georgia native had his worst season in 2011, hitting .240 with 10 home runs and just 44 RBIs.