Sox Drawer: Beckham, Morel trying to stay positive

736666.png

Sox Drawer: Beckham, Morel trying to stay positive

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.

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez looked like a pair of pitchers who began their offseasons earlier to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

Both White Sox starting pitchers looked sharp as they made their spring debuts in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. Team USA relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones also pitched a scoreless inning each in the win. Prospect Zack Burdi also pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Gonzalez, who is on the Team Mexico roster, only allowed a single on a dropped pop up on the infield in two scoreless innings.

“I’m a little ahead of the game right now,” Gonzalez said. “I started a little earlier this year in the offseason to work out, thinking I wanted to go to the WBC and get ready for that. But I think the most important thing right now is getting ready for April 1 with the White Sox. That’s my goal, and you don’t get these opportunities every year. To represent Mexico, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.”

Quintana, who will start for Colombia in their March 10 opener against the United States, allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He struck out one and hit a batter.

“I feel good,” Quintana said. “I think for the first day I feel comfortable. I hit the glove. I feel good. A couple of pitches spinning were good and I feel really good.”

[RELATED: Jim Thome on being a finalist for National Baseball Hall of Fame]

Robertson is throwing much earlier than normal in anticipation of his March 6 departure for Miami, where Team USA begins its tournament. The club’s closer normally wouldn’t appear in a game until the calendar turns to March. Robertson said he usually only needs 5-6 spring outings to get in shape for the regular season. Though he felt a little rusty, the right-hander was pleased with several changeups and fastballs he threw.

“I wouldn’t say it was smooth but I got through it,” Robertson said. “I had a few bad pitches that were just not competitive. … All in all I got through what seemed like a tough inning for a first outing.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to go down there and put the ‘USA’ across my chest and have a chance to win something for our country. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to play with a group of guys I’ve been playing against my whole life.”

Eddie Alvarez had a three-run double for the White Sox while Tyler Saladino collected two hits in three trips. Catcher Roberto Pena went 2-for-2 with an RBI. 

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”