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updated: 2/21/2013 8:52 PM

Sox will stick with Beckham -- for now

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  • Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham throws during spring training baseball in Phoenix, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

      Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham throws during spring training baseball in Phoenix, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

 
 

A decade ago, the White Sox had to make a decision.

Be patient with the homegrown infielder and his star potential? Or, cut ties and move on?

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The player in question - Joe Crede - was often overmatched with the bat in the early stages of his run as the Sox' starting third baseman.

Always good with the glove, Crede finally started hitting in his third full season. But just when his all-around game started soaring, a back injury cut Crede's promising career short.

Fast forward to Gordon Beckham.

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Beckham played just 59 games in the minor leagues before being summoned to the majors on June 4, 2009.

Then manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't shy about questioning the quick promotion, but Beckham stepped right in as a rookie and played like a future all-star, batting .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBI in 103 games.

What happened to that guy?

In his first full season, 2010, Beckham batted .252 with 9 homers and 49 RBI in 131 games. The following year, the former Georgia All-American batted .230 with 10 homers and 44 RBI in 150 games.

And last season, Beckham had a .234 average, 16 HR and 60 RBI in 151 games. He also had a disappointing .296 on-base percentage for the second straight year.

He could have been traded -- or nontendered -- this winter, but Beckham and the White Sox agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million contract last month.

Much like they did with Crede, the Sox are sticking with Beckham. But major-league baseball is a business, and results matter.

If Beckham doesn't get it going at the plate this season, the White Sox might decide it's time to go in a different direction.

After making an adjustment late last season and batting .250 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI over the final month, Beckham said there is reason for optimism.

"The way I ended the season and kind of the corner I turned, I'm not really worried about it," Beckham said of his future with the Sox. "I think people assume you need to really do what you're capable of doing or it might be the end of the road, but I know what I'm capable of doing and I feel strong about how I finished the year last year.

"I have a lot of things going for me. I have a great support staff and a lot of coaches from the organization, so I'm not worried a bit."

Hitting coach Jeff Manto monitored Beckham over the winter and expressed similar confidence.

"It was the same Beckham we saw in September and October," Manto said after watching the second baseman hit at U.S. Cellular Field in late January. "He looks good. He's on his feet; he's on his legs. He's confident."

Defensively, Beckham earned deserved Gold Glove consideration last season while posting a .9899 fielding percentage. That ranks second in franchise history for second baseman behind Nellie Foxx (.9901 fielding percentage in 1962).

"I know I can play a great second base and they know that, too," Beckham said. "Just get the bat going like I think it will and it will be a good year."

The White Sox are auditioning utility infielders in spring training, so Beckham's backup is TBD.

Heading into camp, Angel Sanchez was the leading candidate to make the 25-man roster.

Selected from the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft, Sanchez hit .320 with 5 home runs and 45 RBI in 107 games with Class AAA Oklahoma City (Astros) last season before signing a minor-league deal with Los Angeles.

Sanchez, 29, has played in 184 games over three major-league seasons with the Royals, Red Sox and Astros, batting .255 with 1 home run and 54 RBI. He can play second base, shortstop and third base.

Carlos Sanchez is the White Sox' top infield prospect after batting a combined .323 with Class A Winston-Salem, AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte last season.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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