If the White Sox first spring training game of the year was any indication, they're going to have some fantastic infield defense this season.
That's not groundbreaking -- Alexei Ramirez should have won a Gold Glove or two by now, while Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel are promising young defenders as second and third base, respectively. And the sure hands of Paul Konerko don't hurt over at first base, either.
But Monday, the Sox put on a defensive showcase, with Beckham making more than a few strong plays, showing off good range and instincts as well as a strong arm. He threw out Dodgers speedburner Dee Gordon on a slow grounder to second (a play Gordon often beats out) and gunned down James Loney at the plate with a strong relay throw from the outfield.
The good defense didn't stop when Robin Ventura inserted the reserves, as Jim Gallagher made an outstanding over-the-shoulder diving catch at first base and Eduardo Escobar showed off some plus range at shortstop.
As good as Beckham was defensively, though, he looked just as lost offensively. It's the first game of the spring, so any concerns may not be warranted -- but he struck out twice, neither of which were good. He was late on a fastball in his first trip to the plate and was fooled by a breaking ball his second time up, with Bill Melton going so far as to mention that Beckham looked like he was in his own head. For someone who spoke all offseason about clearing his head, it wasn't a good start -- although, again, two at-bats is really no reason to be worried yet.
In better news, Jared Mitchell looked impressive in his first at-bat of the spring. He ripped a line drive up the middle that caromed off the second base bag, which he legged out for a double. Hopefully that's a good sign for the former first-round pick: He certainly didn't look hampered by the ankle that has bothered him for nearly two years now.
Dan Johnson made an early mark on his longshot case to join the White Sox bench, drilling a two-run homer in the ninth to account for half of the team's runs.
On the pitching side of things, Nestor Molina was knocked around, allowing five runs on seven hits, one of which was a long home run off the bat of Andy Van Slyke's kid. But he didn't walk anyone, and this early in the spring, that's cause enough to temper any freakouts.
And finally, Addison Reed had a nice battle with Matt Kemp in the fourth inning, ultimately striking out star outfielder with a pretty filthy slider. He missed with a few sliders in the sequence, but Kemp had no chance on the two he threw for strikes.