Beckhams trip to Florida: Better than a fried Oreo


Beckhams trip to Florida: Better than a fried Oreo

Thursday, January 13, 2011
5:15 PM

By Brett Ballantini

CHICAGO Gordon Beckhams relaxed drawl, spilling out like molasses as he waited for his flight out of Miami on Thursday afternoon, flew in the face of a staunch determination to wipe out his disappointing 2010 campaign and reclaim a postseason berth for his White Sox.

Last year there was a lot put on my plate, and when I didnt immediately meet expectations I went into panic mode, the Chicago second sacker said of his atrocious start in 2010, which was scarred by his second position change in as many seasons field and first-half splits of .216.277.304 and a .581 OPS. That cant happen, and that wont happen again. I got frustrated, and mentally tired.

Beckham battled back and had an outstanding second half, putting up OPS marks of .950 in July and .931 in August before a beanball smashed his right hand in the seventh inning of an Aug. 31 game at the Cleveland Indians. The sophomore tried to battle through the injury but could mount only a paltry .497 OPS and seven total bases in the next two weeks before stepping to the plate for that last time on September 15.

I was in the worst mental state of my baseball life, Beckham reflected. It was good to come out on top.

The official beginning to the 2011 season might come next weekend as the ballclub hosts its annual packed fan hootenanny at SoxFest, but the now-traditional, still-unofficial start of proceedings came this week, in Miami, under the watchful eye of White Sox bench coach and future MLB manager Joey Cora. Several White Sox players committed to these voluntary, tune-up workouts that come a full month before pitchers and catchers begin to trickle into Arizona for spring training.

To hear Beckham tell it, Camp Cora was a resounding success on all counts, beginning with the bounce-back of the hand that had so plagued him at seasons end.

In December, Beckham said, he underwent a particularly painful batting practice session, which was later determined to be the breaking up of scar tissue in his hand. The very next day he hit the cages with no ill effects, and survived the three days of Camp Cora drills in perfect health.

I didnt deal with hand pain at all this whole week, the prototype Chisox grinder said.

On Monday through Wednesday, White Sox players gathered with Cora for infield drills and worked in the cages with White Sox batting coach Greg Walker.

I wanted to get some reps in with the infielders, get on the field and hit, Beckham said. It was a good time. It was good to start moving around and get ready for the season.

Of course, the Pale Hose being the Pale Hose, there has been no lack of off-field drama this offseason, culminating at the end of the year with Bobby Jenkss departure to the Boston Red Sox and the Fredo Corleone of the Chisox, Oney Guillen, exposing via the wildly inappropriate forum of Twitter apparent confidential, personal problems the closer had while in Chicago. Imaginably, it was a subject that did pop up during the South Beach boot camp.

Me and Joey talked a little bit about keeping confidences in the locker room, Beckham said. Everybody is on the same page. We want to play. We dont want outside drama to fill our locker room this year. Joey says hes talked a lot to White Sox manager and Oneys father Ozzie Guillen on that kind of stuff.

We want it to be on us. If were playing bad, its not because of some outside issues. Oneygate is over with and done.

While Beckham was brimming confidence as the dawn of the season nears (everyone on the team is going to share the load we have the pieces in place), the infielder almost didnt make it down to Camp Cora this week due to the surprise snowfalls that dusted the south: I would have been snowed in keeping my original flight on Monday, but I switched my flight to get there in advance. Me and snow, that doesnt work.
Short Stops

Defense was the real emphasis of Camp Cora, with Beckham, corner infielder Dayan Viciedo and third baseman Brent Morel getting in tons of infield reps per White Sox team footage released on Tuesday, in which Cora said that we want to get them in shape and work on backhands and some of the fundamentals of the game were striving to be one of the best infields in the league and we have the potential to do that. Beckham brimmed with similar confidence heading into his second season as a second sacker: I feel very comfortable at second; Joey was very happy with me at second last year. As an infield, were going to make some plays this year and can pick the ball. Its pretty obvious, we can play some defense.

Among many impressive-looking teammates, double-play partner Alexei Ramirez made the biggest impression on Beckham: Alexei looks bigger. Hes gained a little muscle.

Beckham was thrilled to have team captain Paul Konerko return to the fold, acknowledging that, without Paul last year, I might never have gotten out of the funk I was in He handles the leadership duties nobody else wants to handle.

The former high school quarterback and Atlanta native is rooting for a Falcons-Bears NFC title game, even if he has to miss the game due to SoxFest: Id like the game to be close; maybe the Falcons win it right at the end. Like most people, I just want to see good games in the playoffs.

There was no word on any ill effects from Beckhams excursion into the haute cuisine of South Beach on Wednesday night, when the second baseman tweeted, Went to Prime 112 tonight with Greg Walker and Brent Morel. Food was awesome. All I got to say is, fried Oreos. OH MY GOD. UNBELIEVABLE.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.