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updated: 8/26/2014 9:22 PM

Why was Beckham a bust with White Sox?

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  • Los Angeles Angels' Gordon Beckham, right, blows a bubble after being called out on strikes from Oakland Athletics' Jon Lester in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

      Los Angeles Angels' Gordon Beckham, right, blows a bubble after being called out on strikes from Oakland Athletics' Jon Lester in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

 
 

It's all water under the bridge now, but the question still lingers … why was Gordon Beckham such a bust with the White Sox?

What happened to the former University of Georgia star, who was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 draft and looked like a perennial all-star in his rookie season with the Sox?

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Why did Beckham, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels last week for literally nothing (a player to be named later or cash considerations), suddenly forget how to hit these past five seasons?

I still go back to Beckham being rushed to the majors. True, the slick-fielding second baseman had a stout .323/.374/.502 hitting line along with 7 home runs and 38 RBI with Class A Kannapolis, AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte after being drafted.

But when he joined the White Sox in early June 2009, Beckham had just 59 games in the minor leagues.

In a conference call Tuesday, I asked Beckham if spending more time in the minors would have helped him adjust to hitting in the majors.

"I don't know," Beckham said. "I didn't get called up just because I was a highly touted prospect. I feel like I earned that call-up by doing well. It's one of those things, I kind of rolled into it and had a good rookie year.

"I think being up there so quick and not having much failure in the minors, I had to learn kind of on the big stage how to fail and how to fail with grace, I guess.

"It would have been easy for me to just make excuses and blame other people for my shortcomings. I'm glad I handled it like that and didn't blame anybody else. But I just didn't fail a lot in the minors.

"To come up in the big leagues and fail in front of a big-league audience, it was definitely tough and it took a lot from me."

You can read between the lines there and definitely get the feeling Beckham could have used more time on the farm.

I asked his former teammate and close friend Paul Konerko the same question.

"There are levels in the minor leagues that were invented a long time ago for a reason," Konerko said. "There have been guys that bypass them sometimes and don't really have issues in the big leagues, but there are definitely a lot of foundations built down in the minor leagues, not only just playing but the whole lifestyle.

"When you get up here and everything is heightened and magnified, you need to have those things to kind of counter it.

"I think (Beckham) learned that up here the last couple two, three years, and he knew what the right things were and the wrong ones. But I think at that point you're kind of playing catch-up and the baggage is there and it's tough to kind of get free of all that stuff because it just adds up.

"I don't think it's his fault; I don't think it's the team's fault. It's one of those things that happens, but he's the kind of guy you want to see do well in the big leagues because he's a high-character guy, a good team guy and just a good person overall."

On the bright side, Beckham is heading to the playoffs for the first time in his career, even if it's with a new team.

"I really felt like I had some weight taken off my shoulders," Beckham said. "For whatever reason, I was struggling in Chicago. Fortunately for me, it (trade) has really given me a sense of clarity. All the baggage I had is no more. It's definitely a good feeling.

"It's definitely hard to leave the White Sox and everything they've meant to me and my family over the last six years, but I'm definitely excited and happy about where I'm at on a team that's contending and excited to be out here now."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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