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updated: 5/8/2014 10:55 PM

New hitting coach has Sox making connections

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  • Chicago White Sox's Gordon Beckham launches a three-run home run off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood, also scoring Moises Sierra and Daryl Boston, during the fourth inning of an interleague baseball game Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

      Chicago White Sox's Gordon Beckham launches a three-run home run off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood, also scoring Moises Sierra and Daryl Boston, during the fourth inning of an interleague baseball game Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

 
 

After finishing last in 2013, the White Sox lead the American League in runs scored this season.

New hitting coach Todd Steverson has made an instant impact, not that he's seeking out praise.

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"I always say they fix themselves," Steverson said. "I just make suggestions."

Surprisingly, Steverson rarely talks about nuts-and-bolts hitting. He focuses more of his attention on making sure Sox hitters are mentally focused and properly positioned to hit.

Take Gordon Beckham, for example.

It sure looked as if Beckham shortened up his swing while hitting home runs against the Cubs on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Steverson has a different view.

"Positioning and timing allow you to be shorter," Steverson said. "If you're late, you're going to be long. A lot of people discount direction and timing. It's like, if I can't connect with the pitcher I can't recognize and I can't put my 'A' swing on a ball I'm supposed to hit."

Beckham has been heating up after missing the first 22 games of the season with a left-oblique strain.

"He's been highly touted for a long time, since college all the way through now," Steverson said. "If you really look at his career up to this point, he's had to do the majority of his development in the big leagues.

"That's not easy. He didn't spend very long in the minor leagues. It takes time to be really good at this level."

Steverson said Beckham still has the same swing, but his mental approach is much different.

"It was just really some mental thoughts affecting the physical," Steverson said. "Understanding what's going on, that's really the end of the whole thing. You have to understand, 'What am I doing to myself? Am I putting myself in the best position possible to be successful?'

"Once you recognize, 'Well, no, this isn't the best position possible, but I'm able to survive off it,' it's like fool's gold, you know. It's like you do OK now and then but it always breaks down on you somewhere instead of trying to stick with something you can make adjustments off of that you know is correct.

"It's just buying into the thought of 'I'm best when I'm here.' "

Sale update:

Chris Sale continues to make steady progress throwing bullpens, and the White Sox' ace might be ready for a minor-league rehab start next week after another session Saturday.

Sale has been on the disabled list since April 18 with flexor-muscle strain in his left arm.

"He's progressing; he doesn't feel anything," manager Robin Ventura said. "Talking to him he said everything feels good. You continue to go from there."

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