Take a look at the batting averages in the White Sox starting lineup, and there are two numbers that stand out like a pair of Cubs fans walking down the middle of a street in Bridgeport: .115 & .103.
Those are the current averages, respectively, for Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel, who have been digging themselves in a such a hole at the plate there are fans and critics who wonder if the team should begin a rescue mission -- one that includes a long rope strong enough to pull both of them onto the bench (or even to Triple-A) until they figure out their hitting woes.
In nine games, Morel has 13 strikeouts in 29 at-bats. Beckham has 11 punchouts in 26 at-bats, and has yet to drive in a run.
So whats the problem? How has this gone so wrong so fast? And what can both of them do to get out their rut?
Before Tuesdays game, the struggling infielders spoke openly and honestly about their early battles.
I dont know whats going on with the strikeouts. Its amazing how many strikeouts Ive had because I usually dont do that, said Beckham, sitting at his locker. I hit some balls hard yesterday after the first at-bat to the rest of the at-bats. I made an adjustment and it was the right adjustment. So there was progress last night in an 0-for-4 in a positive way.
What kind of an adjustment did he make?
Its just getting my foot down and let my hands do the work, because the hands are my moneymaker, he explained.
In his rookie year in 2009, we saw what those hands can do. Beckham would often drive the ball to all parts of the field, where the ball found plenty of grass. He batted .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs in 103 games. But after two consecutive lost seasons, the pressure is on for Beckham to perform. He knows it, but hes not about to panic.
I think that a lot of this has gotten blown up a little bit because its seven or eight games in and averages are fluctuating, Beckham said. I just heard a stat where Miguel Cabrera came in and was hitting .533. Now hes hitting .219 (Actually .222). Early in the season a lot of this is magnified to where maybe in the middle of the season it wouldnt be.
As for talk amongst fans and media about him possibly losing his job, its news to Gordon.
I havent heard anything like that, he said. Whoever that is, is not my problem. People can think what they want to think. Its nine games.
After belting eight homers and driving in 19 runs last September, Morel was hoping to carry that over to the start of this season. However, that hasnt happened yet. Brents struggles are even more magnified because hes batting second. He has three hits -- only one for extra bases -- and at this point, doesnt have an answer to fix whats wrong.
I dont know. If I knew, I wouldnt be in this position, Morel said. Im just trying to battle and not to try to look in the past, and not try to gain it all back too quick. Just trying to take it at short time frames and looking at good at-bats.
Morel believes hell eventually break out of his slump, but walking to the plate with a .103 batting average flashing next to your name is not easy.
Its tough. Nobody wants to go up here and fail, Morel said. Its tough on you. Its a lot easier when were winning. Like last night, you get that loss and it makes it a little bit worse.
Despite their struggles at the plate, Beckham and Morel are not taking their problems to the field, where both have played exceptional defense.
So, when will the hits come?
I know I had a good spring, Beckham said. I know its right there.