CHICAGO -- Refusing to play the sandy cliff at high tide, Gordon Beckham showed Tuesday that he isn’t about to erode away just yet.
Scuffling ever since he returned from the disabled list two weeks ago, Beckham had four hits against the Chicago Cubs, including the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning as the White Sox went on to a 5-1 victory.
It gave the White Sox victories in their two games at Wrigley Field this season after losing all four of the battles against their crosstown rivals last season.
There is a unique dynamic playing out this season with Beckham, the former first-round draft pick who has struggled to meet the promise of his rookie season in 2009.
Some of the lowest hanging fruit on the White Sox’s tree these days is at second base. Marcus Semien can play there, as can Carlos Sanchez, Leury Garcia and Micah Johnson, currently doing impressive things at the Double-A level.
At no other position do the White Sox have so many high-ceiling players, so it wouldn’t be so crazy to surmise that Beckham is feeling the heat.
“It can be hard, but he’s got a great attitude about it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s playing, he knows he’s a good player and he’s got to continue to just play. That’s stuff you can’t really control, of whatever’s behind you. Just take care of what’s right now, and that’s what he’s doing.”
With just seven hits in 11 games since he returned from an oblique injury, Beckham went the drastic route Tuesday of changing his hitting mechanics in early batting practice. Talk about paying off in a hurry. Beckham had singles in the first, fourth and sixth innings. His home run in the eighth left the park despite a firm headwind.
“Yeah, my mechanics are OK, they're better,” Beckham said. “They're better than they were last night. I'm in a better spot.”
Beckham was brutally honest afterward, saying it’s not like he has never had to figure his way out of some struggles. He always seems to be on the edge of emerging, but something goes wrong. This year it was the oblique, last year it was a broken hand.
Now he's dealing with the concept that not only can he lose his job to a younger player, but his tenure with the White Sox might not last another three months.
With all those young infielders ready to break through, it has fueled speculation that Beckham could be moved at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The return on a deal would be sweetest if the second baseman could get hot as the summer arrives.
In fact, the White Sox’s insistence in batting Beckham second in the lineup could be because they know he will get more pitches to hit in front of Jose Abreu. Opponents aren’t going to want to dance around a hitter that has so much RBI potential hitting behind him.
If the perceived plan works, Beckham will start producing, the White Sox can trade him for some high-level young talent and Semien will take over at second, with Johnson possibly taking the position at some point in the near future.
But the more Beckham can put all those scenarios out of his mind, the better he will be.
“I got a better feel today,” he said. “I mean, it was bound to happen. I was bound to do better than like 1-for-6 or so. I wasn't panicked. It was one of those things. I've kind of been here before. I’m glad I happened to do it.”
How odd that after all these years of trying to reach his maximum potential, he could finally do it this season only to get traded because of it.
“I mean when you pull an oblique, there should be more moments where you don't have the same swing because obviously the oblique has so much to do with your body and your swing and everything, so you kind of got to find it,” Beckham said. “But [hitting coach Todd Steverson], I worked with him today and he gave me a good idea, and I just took and ran with it. A lot of credit goes to him.”