Beckham shows encouraging signs

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Beckham shows encouraging signs

Gordon Beckham goes 3-4 one night, and all of a sudden a throng of media is surrounding his locker the next afternoon.

"These questions are ridiculous -- I mean, I had one good game," Beckham said, either sarcastically or with a hint of irritation. "I know I can hit. I was happy last night. I'm going to continue working the way I've been working. Whatever happens at the end of the year is what I worked for and what I deserved. That's all."

To be fair, Beckham should've seen this coming. While Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have all got off to solid starts to the 2012 season, Beckham has floundered, entering last night with a .434 OPS. He only had one multi-hit game before Tuesday night, with that coming on a pair of soft singles against Baltimore two weeks ago.

So, yes, it was just one good game. But Beckham hadn't really had a good game until last night. And it came only a few hours after manager Robin Ventura hinted that the leash may be growing tighter for Beckham and Brent Morel.

The tone of Ventura's comments a day later was much more positive.

"That's something that can get him started," Ventura said of Beckham's game Tuesday. "It has to start somewhere and that's something that builds confidence. The home run's nice, but the two other hits for me were bigger than the home run, just the way he did it, kind of the way the at-bats progressed. That kind of stuff is more promising and looks better than just one home run."

And it's not like Ventura came out on Tuesday and said Beckham was going to hit the pine if he didn't start producing immediately. That's not Ventura's style, and it's something Beckham appreciates.

"We've been struggling, but I don't think there's been any lack of effort. I think he realizes that," Beckham said. "We've been playing well as a team. Some guys have struggled, yes, but we've still been playing well. Guys that have been struggling are going to get going and hopefully pick up some guys that have been hot and might have an off week."

A lot of Beckham's struggles have been pegged as being on the mental side of things -- for someone with so much talent, he's worried quite about about the mechanics of his approach. So perhaps it's an encouraging sign that Beckham couldn't really explain what went right on Tuesday.

"I had a different feel, it was a good feel. I don't know how to describe it," Beckham said. "It was just more me. I don't know what that means, but that's kind of what it was."

One game doesn't erase a full month -- or two years -- of Beckham's offensive malaise. He's had plenty of good games and good stretches in the last two seasons.

But with every one will come the expectation that Beckham has finally turned a corner. And until he does that, the questions will keep coming.

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A torrid two months at the plate helped Jose Abreu end what he found to be an extremely trying 2016 season with numbers close to his career norms.

But even though he finished with an .820 OPS and 100 RBIs for a third straight season, Abreu admits that 2016 was a season unlike any other he'd faced.

While he didn't disclose any theories for the cause of his lengthy struggles, the White Sox first baseman said Sunday he's pleased to have finished on a positive note and thinks that rebounding from those difficulties will only make him stronger. Abreu — who hit .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 695 plate appearances — is also a fan of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria and is equally impressed with the prospects the club acquired this winter.

"Yes, those were different challenges, especially in my mind," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I never in my life experienced some of the kind of struggles like I did last year. But that put me in a better position as a player, as a person too. I'm in a better position now for this season because I learned from the experience."

In spite of his struggles, Abreu was still a league average player through the first four months of the season. But the 2014 All-Star hardly resembled the player who produced a 153 OPS-plus over his first two seasons. His timing was off and Abreu — hitting .269/.325/.413 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs through July 30 — wasn't driving the ball as he typically had in his first two seasons, when he smacked 66 homers.

Abreu was lost at the plate and nobody could figure out why.

But after the arrival of his son, Dariel, who visited him for the first time since he moved to the United States, Abreu took off. He hit .338/.402/.568 the rest of the season with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 249 trips to the plate.

"Right after last season ended, I had my meeting at my house with my family, just to explain to them how the season was because they know about baseball," Abreu said. "But sometimes they can't register how the process is in a season as long as the major league season is. We talked about it. I explained to them all of the challenges, the problems I had during that season. Once we ended with that meeting, last season was in the past. We moved on and we were trying just to figure out things and how can I do better for this season."

Now in his fourth season in the majors, Abreu has a firm grasp on how the White Sox operate and likes some of the team's modifications. He likes how Renteria thoroughly communicates what he has in mind for the club. Abreu also enjoys being seen as one of the team's leaders and wouldn't mind being a mentor to prized prospect Yoan Moncada.

Now he hopes to carry over his strong finish to the start of the 2017 campaign.

"I'm working on it," Abreu said. "That's one of my goals. Everybody knows that at the beginning of last season, I wasn't performing good. It was kind of a surprise for me, too. But I'm in good shape right now and I believe I will be able to succeed."

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The leading candidate to be the team’s starting center fielder, Charlie Tilson has been temporarily shut down after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot.

The White Sox rookie said Sunday that he noticed the injury gradually building up before he decided to stop his workout on Friday and headed for the training room. An MRI performed Saturday on Tilson -- who is rehabbing from a torn left hamstring that ended his 2016 season early -- revealed the reaction, which isn’t severe as a stress fracture. Given Tilson previously had a stress fracture in his right foot, the White Sox said he'll be sidelined from impact work for 10 days, at which point he’d be re-evaluated.

“It started very minimal, and I tried to work through it a little bit, and by the time I addressed Herm, thankfully I caught it before it was anything that would keep me out for too long,” Tilson said. “It’s a minor thing, and it will give my other leg a chance to get stronger in the meantime, and hopefully we’ll turn this negative into a positive.”

Tilson wouldn’t be surprised if his injury is related to overcompensating for his left leg, which he has worked tirelessly to rehab since he suffered the injury on Aug. 2 and then had season-ending surgery. Manager Rick Renteria described it as an “irritation” in the area where Tilson suffered a stress fracture in 2013. In the interim, the White Sox will test some of their other options in camp, including veteran Peter Bourjos and minor leaguers Adam Engel and Jacob May, among others.

“But we don’t foresee it to be a long-term issue,” Renteria said. “By being able to shut him down now, it’ll be something he’ll be able to recover from. We’ll just readjust his timetable.”

Minor as Tilson and the White Sox say it is, the outfielder admitted he’s down about having to deal with it after the progress he’d made in his rehab.

The White Sox acquired the New Trier High School product from the St. Louis Cardinals last July in exchange for left-hander Zach Duke. Tilson was immediately called up as the White Sox intended to try him out in center field the rest of the season. But he suffered a season-ending injury in his major league debut while tracking down a fly ball and had surgery several days later.

Tilson made enough progress to be a full participant in a hitter’s camp at Camelback Ranch last month. Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tilson was a top candidate to take over as the club’s starting center fielder if he was healthy.

“I guess you could say I’m disappointed,” Tilson said. “But it’s a very minor setback and it’s part of the process. I had a major repair, and these things come up and hopefully we can minimize them as much as we can and hopefully this is the last one. But I’m just going to deal with it and do whatever I can to move forward.”