Sox Drawer: The return of Beckham

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Sox Drawer: The return of Beckham

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
12:25 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

For three months, Gordon Beckham remained stuck in a baseball abyss; a dark, lonely existence where its just you, your mind, your bat, and that embarrassing batting average that pops off the scoreboard for everyone to see when you come to the plate.

.202
.195
.191
.186
.182

How low could it go? And for how long? Beckham wasnt sure.

"I was supposed to come into Chicago this year and hit just like I did last year and then some," Beckham said by phone from Seattle before the White Sox played the Mariners. "I understand that a lot of people were wondering what was going on."

That includes the White Sox, who were suddenly faced with the possibility of sending their prized second baseman back down to the minor leagues. Did Gordon think it could happen?

"Yeah, that always goes through your head."

No one seemed to have the answer for Beckhams struggles at the plate.

Well, except for one Sox fan, who recently sent a letter to Gordon, a letter that begins with the words:

"Im 78 years old, so I think I know a little something about baseball"

Beckham picks up the story from there.

The guy says, You obviously have an upper cut in your swing. The Japanese guy from Seattle (Ichiro Suzuki) does not have an upper cut in his swing and hes hitting around .330. It seems to be working for him.

Sound advice. Entertaining as well. So much so that the letter is currently taped to a wall inside the White Sox clubhouse. Its the same place where Beckham and hitting coach Greg Walker have hunkered down, as Gordon puts it, "a million times trying to get his swing back.

"I know its been tough on Walker to watch me struggle, but hes been good. Hes helped me out a lot.

And it was advice that Walker gave to Beckham before the All-Star break that suddenly clicked with last years rookie sensation.

"We talked about the swing and the swing plane," Beckham said. He told me to almost swing underneath the ball as opposed to firing at the ball from the top. So its basically an easy path, an easy swing under the ball which is actually the way youre supposed to swing."

And lately, Beckham has started swinging like Tarzan from a tree.

In just 8 games, Gordon raised his batting average from .205 to .241, going 16-for-28 with 2 HRs and 8 RBIs.

Beckham and Walker had something to do with it, but so did that 78-year-old fan, and a countless number of Sox supporters who came to Beckhams emotional rescue when times were tough.

"People have been stopping me on the street, not really giving me advice, but just saying were still behind you and we know youre going to come through," Beckham said. "Thats always nice when people dont abandon you when youre struggling, and people could have for sure. A lot of people could have. The White Sox, everybody could have. People have stayed with me. It has obviously helped. And I have taken that with me. Im glad Im over the hump, and hopefully Ill give back to them in the second half of the season."

In one way, Beckham already ismusically.

Last month, his struggles had bottomed to the point where he had to ask the White Sox to stop playing his wildly popular intro song "Your Love" by The Outfield when he came to the plate.

Fortunately, Josies no longer on a vacation far away.

"If youve been listening closely, every time I get a hit now, The Outfield should be playing over the loud speakers, so weve turned it from a negative into a positive."

Personally, I hadnt noticed.

"Youve got to pay attention, Chuck. Youve got to pay attention."

My apologies. Ive been locked in the studio lately with Frank Thomas and Bill Melton.

As it turns out, the musical change was Gordons idea.

"I got a lot of flack from people saying they wanted the song back, so I said why dont we just put it back when I get a hit and that way everybodys happy."

Right now everybody is. Gordon, his fans, and probably the members of The Outfield, who are back raking in the royalties.

As for Beckhams hitting woes, "If I dont hear another question about that, it would be fantastic."

Agreed.

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields vs. Jerad Eickhoff

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

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White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

Carlos Rodon has once again found the kind of groove that makes the White Sox hopeful about the direction in which he’s trending.

The left-hander continued a strong August on Tuesday night with his best start of the season.

The 2014 first-rounder pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 in front of 18,843 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodon — who has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this month — won for the second time in four starts and Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau homered as the White Sox were victorious a third straight time.

“If (Rodon) keeps running like that, he’s going to be a superstar,” said rookie catcher Omar Narvaez.

Rodon’s second season has begun to shape up much like his rookie campaign.

He pitched better through his first 14 starts of 2016 than he did a year ago, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those turns. But Rodon didn’t have much to show for it as he surrendered leads or pitched with a razor thin margin of error because of lackluster run support.

Same as last season, Rodon has turned it on in August. Over his final eight starts in 2015, Rodon went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA.

With some help from Narvaez and an overpowering fastball, Rodon looked strong throughout a 109-pitch effort.

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He worked around a first-inning jam and took off.  Rodon struck out Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp after he allowed a pair of one-out singles, which began a stretch where he retired 14 of 15 batters. Rodon also worked around a leadoff double in the sixth inning as he lowered his ERA to 4.02.

One key to the effort was finding a different way to make his slider more effective. Narvaez said he and Rodon began to use it as a backdoor slider after he struggled early with command and hitters laid off it.

“The slider wasn’t working too good down and in, they’d take it, so Omar set up a tad outside and just brought it back in,” Rodon said. “It was nice. It was huge. Had something to gauge off of to get that slider off the outside corner and it worked out well.

“Just comfortable, got on a roll and everything worked out.”

Rodon allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He has struck out 20 and walked only six batters in his last 24 2/3 innings.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Rodon’s effort has been in large part to improved power pitching. Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“He’s made some strides from where he was before,” Ventura said. “He was trying to pick. When he’s like that he’s not that guy. Everything he does has effort, and its strength. When he has it going on it looks really good. He doesn’t need to get away from his strength and physicality is one of them. When he picks around and throws soft stuff he’s not as effective.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: First-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League]

Rodon’s offense rewarded him handsomely.

Adam Eaton tripled and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI groundout in the first inning. Anderson then tripled in Eaton in the third to make it a 2-0 game. Abreu, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth, singled in a run in the third and Todd Frazier had a sac fly to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

Morneau’s solo shot in the fifth followed Abreu’s two-run homer off Jake Thompson to put the White Sox ahead 7-0. Carlos Sanchez also had an RBI single and Melky Cabrera had an RBI double.

Rodon was victorious for only the fourth time in 12 decisions this season. Prior to the start of the second half, Rodon said he needed to throw out his rough first half and start over.

The way he has pitched of late has him confident in himself once again. The next step is putting it together from the start of the season, he said.

“When you’re in a zone you just try to stay in it, to be honest,” Rodon said. “Hopefully in the future you have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half.

“It’s all a process, what Coop says. It’s building up to it and trying to get like Q and Sale. Those guys are very good, top of the line starters, left-handers in the game, probably the very best. I’d love to be like that.”

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

Zack Collins’ first pro season just got a little longer.

The White Sox’ first-round pick will head to Arizona in October to participate in instructional camp and in the Fall League, player development director Nick Capra said Tuesday.

Taken with the 10th pick in the June draft, Collins has a .794 OPS in 110 plate appearances at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though the plan calls for him to be a catcher, the White Sox have limited how much playing time Collins has had behind the plate this season. Of his 29 professional starts, 11 have come as a designated hitter.

“He’s had a long season,” Capra said. “He caught almost every day in Miami. He looks like he’s beat up a little bit, but he’s been fine. We are kind of taking care of him a little bit. He’s not catching every day. He’s DHing sometime. He looks good.”

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Collins appeared in 62 games for the Miami Hurricanes this season. He received the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

The 21-year-old has nine extra-base hits at Winston-Salem this season, including four homers. He has walked 17 times and struck out 30. Collins would only make a brief appearance for instructs before AFL play.

“Looks good,” Capra said. “Catching well. He’s swinging the bat well.

“We just want to get him out there and see him play.

“He looks like he can swing the bat. We are happy with his progress.”