White Sox: Beckham hopes his body doesn't fail him in 2014

White Sox: Beckham hopes his body doesn't fail him in 2014
February 11, 2014, 8:30 am
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He was in the right place mentally in 2013, but his body wouldn’t cooperate.

Now Gordon Beckham hopes the mental and physical sides can align themselves.

The White Sox second baseman begins what could be a make-or-break season next week when spring training opens. Position players report to camp on Feb. 20, five days after pitchers and catchers.

All Beckham — who missed two months with a broken hamate bone and later played six weeks with a sore right quadriceps muscle — hopes for is good health.

“I really felt like I only had a month-and-a-half of healthy baseball,” Beckham said last month. “That’s being as honest as I possibly can. The goal is to stay healthy and if I stay healthy, I’ll do what I need to do.”

Beckham has reached the point in his career where he has to put up numbers to back up a bigger salary. The former first-round pick — who is scheduled for free agency after the 2015 season — is set to earn $4.125 million in 2014.

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If he can match last season, when he entered camp feeling more confident than he had previously, Beckham should be able to offer his team increased production.

Last spring, Beckham felt as good about his approach at the plate as he ever had and looked forward to the regular season. But only a week into the season, he broke his hamate bone and was out until early June.

Beckham returned and had immediate success before he suffered a strained wrist right out of the All-Star break. He still carried a .310 average on Aug. 15 when he suffered the quadriceps injury.

Beckham played in spite of his injury, starting 34 of the team’s final 42 contests and hit just .189 over that period. He wound up with a .267/.322/.372 slash line and five homers and 24 RBIs in 103 games. He also had 22 doubles and dropped his strikeout rate to 13.7 percent of his plate appearances, down from 19.9 percent in 2011, per fangraphs.com.

“I feel like I’m in a really solid spot, more so than I ever have been coming into a season since my rookie year,” Beckham said. “I think the White Sox see that and obviously that’s why I’m still around. If I go out and play my game, I think it’ll translate.”

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Even though his 2013 season was sabotaged by too many trips to the training room, Beckham can find some good. He saw enough proof in his development as a hitter and has confidence good things await him in 2014.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a hitter,” Beckham said. “I feel like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I first came up and I just went out there and played. There’s something to that too, but there’s also something to make adjustments. That’s something I didn’t understand how to do, but the more I’ve understood my swing and understand what it takes to be successful, I’ve kind of tailored my swing now back to where it was.

"It has come full circle in my mind. I know it’s in there. I know there’s some good to be had and last year I would have had a good season had I not gotten hurt.”