Sox Drawer: Beckham, Morel trying to stay positive

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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.

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Call it the White Sox latest Cuban connection.

When news came out of the team pursuing 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, it was pretty easy to guess that Jose Abreu, the franchise’s previous big-time, free-agent signing from Cuba, would be involved.

But not only was Abreu involved in the White Sox courting of Robert, sending a personalized message as part of the team’s video pitch, he’s been a willing participant. And now that Robert is officially signed after Saturday’s much-hyped introduction, Abreu is ready to take on a mentorship role, much like he has with another one of the organization’s Cuban prospects, Yoan Moncada.

In the lead up to Saturday’s press conference, it was Abreu touring Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field, chatting with him in the dugout and taking pictures on the infield.

“I was very excited to have him here, and I’m very happy right now because he’s signing with the team,” Abreu said through a translator ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the visiting Detroit Tigers. “He’s a very good player. I just told him that he has to keep working hard and keep doing the things to get here as soon as he can. He’s a nice guy.

“I’m excited to have that opportunity (to be a mentor). That’s something that I like to do. I like to advise the guys and tell them what to do for their best like I am doing right now with Moncada. I’m just waiting for that opportunity to happen with (Robert).”

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While Abreu arrived on the South Side an older, more experienced player who was ready for the big leagues, Robert’s journey to the majors will be a much different, much longer one. Abreu recognizes that and talked about how tough the transition will be. He also has confidence Robert, who has received glowing scouting reports comparing him to perennial All Stars, can succeed.

“It’s not an easy thing to do to come here straight to play in the majors because this is a very high level and a tough one to play,” Abreu said. “I think the best for him is the decision that he’s making for him, to have some games in the minors and let him develop there. He’s had a long time without playing baseball. Baseball in Cuba is good, but it’s not as good as baseball here in the U.S. and you have to adjust. I think that process for him is going to be perfect in the minors.”

Saturday, Robert talked about the White Sox tradition of Cuban players, mentioning how it helped motivate him to sign with the team. Abreu has been one of the franchise’s most successful Cuban players, a list that includes the legendary Minnie Minoso as well as more recent players like Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo and Moncada in the minor leagues.

While that tradition might not be the entire or even main reason Robert is now a part of the organization, general manager Rick Hahn talked about how it’s created an environment that will help Robert develop. Banners featuring Minoso, Abreu, Ramirez and Moncada flanked the table where Robert signed his contract.

Abreu said it’s a tradition he’s very proud to be a part of.

“That made me feel happy and proud. Not just for this organization that I’m a part of, but also for my heritage because I know that this is a very good organization and they are trying to take care of the Cuban players,” Abreu said. “I also feel a huge respect for Minnie Minoso because he was the first one who opened this door here with the White Sox.”

Through his mentoring, Abreu could keep that tradition going into the future. Robert and Moncada are huge pieces of the White Sox rebuilding puzzle, and Abreu is helping put those pieces together for the White Sox.

Two days out, White Sox already excited about facing former teammate Chris Sale

Two days out, White Sox already excited about facing former teammate Chris Sale

There are still two days remaining until the White Sox take the field against their old teammate, but the questions are already coming about what it will be like to face Chris Sale on Tuesday night.

The Boston Red Sox come to the South Side for a three-game series starting Monday afternoon, but the highlight of the set will be Tuesday night's matchup: Sale against his old team, which will counter with another All-Star arm in Jose Quintana.

The White Sox jumpstarted their rebuilding effort this offseason when they traded Sale to Boston, getting a hefty haul back in return led by top prospect Yoan Moncada.

Sale was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball during his tenure in a White Sox uniform and has continued that trend in Boston, where he's posted a 2.34 ERA in 10 starts this season, punching out a league-leading 101 batters in a league-leading 73 innings of work.

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Tuesday night he'll go up against his ex-mates for the first time, something those players are pretty excited about.

"I have so much respect. He was one of the best teammates that I had here in my first three years," first baseman Jose Abreu said Sunday. "That will be fun. He’s a very good pitcher, and we’ll see what happens that day."

"Facing Saler is going to be awesome, big time," Quintana said. "A big moment of the season. He was my teammate. It's a different feeling, but it's good to face the best left-hander in the league. I'm excited and I think he's excited, too. But my focus right now is to do my job. Do my work and do my thing and put us in a good position to win. That's all I can do."

There'll be much more reaction to come from both the White Sox and the Red Sox ahead of the matchup on Monday and Tuesday. But already this big-time showdown against Sale — who made five consecutive All-Star appearances in his seven years on the South Side — is demanding everyone's attention.