DETROIT — Gordon Beckham had a crack-of-dawn flight from Alabama and then a mid-afternoon meeting with reigning American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.
After he learned he’d come off the disabled list a day earlier than expected, Beckham assumed he’d be in Thursday’s lineup. He also suspected it would be a long day.
He wasn’t wrong.
Playing in his first game of the season, Beckham, who was on the DL retroactive to March 21 with a left oblique strain, went 0-for-4 in a 7-4 White Sox loss against the Detroit Tigers. He struck out all three times against Scherzer.
“A little worn out,” Beckham said. “There’s not a lot of Max Scherzers throwing around Double-A, I’ll tell you that. But it’s one of those days. He was good. He had his stuff.”
Physically, Beckham feels like he’s finally in proper shape to play everyday for the White Sox. But it has taken him a while, much longer than Beckham ever expected. Until this week, Beckham said he’d play through soreness and feeling bad and would work it out on the field.
“Last five games, I would say I didn’t feel that,” Beckham said. “We are trying to make sure I got at-bats where I felt good. I did feel good. I hit some balls hard and stuff like that down there. Just need it to translate.”
Beckham first suffered the injury on March 14 as he worked out in the batting cage after a spring training game. He performed no activities for a week and then began to work his way back to health. But Beckham suffered a setback in early April and only began to pick up steam around April 15. Since then he has played in 11 games in 10 days, including Thursday’s start.
He’s accured 47 at-bats since the start of April and feels like he’s in good shape.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Beckham remains the team’s everyday second baseman even though he missed the first 22 games of the season and despite a solid performance by rookie Marcus Semien. Ventura expects to mix and match Semien and Conor Gillaspie and Beckham on occasion.
“You just don’t lose that spot just because you’re hurt so we expect him to be in there,” Ventura said. “We’ll figure it out as we go along.”
Given all of the team’s injuries, Beckham expected to be in Thursday’s lineup. He caught the first flight from Birmingham, Ala. and walked into the clubhouse two hours before first pitch. He said he didn’t mind the bus rides, the longest lasting 4 1/2 hours from Birmingham to Mobile, Ala.
He’s just glad to be back even though it took him longer than he first thought. And despite the rude greeting Scherzer offered.
“The injury itself was a little more severe than anybody really thought to be honest,” Beckham said. “When I started playing earlier in April, I think I re-injured it getting out there. It took some more time. I tried to rush it and it is what it is. It took a lot more time. … I helped him out a bunch, but he had good stuff.”