White Sox

Breaking down Beckham's swing with the Big Hurt

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Breaking down Beckham's swing with the Big Hurt

Gordon Beckham showed some progress Wednesday, collecting an RBI single through the left side in the sixth. But that hit was only his fourth of the season, and it saved him from sustaining a batting average below .100.

I had the chance to sit down with Frank Thomas for Beckham's fourth-inning at-bat -- a weak flyout to right -- to pick the Big Hurt's brain on the second baseman's struggles. Here's what he had to say as the at-bat went on, with images of Beckham's swing below:

There are a lot of moving parts for Beckham as he readies his stance -- his lower half is swaying a bit and he's moving his hands around.

Frank's thoughts: There's too much going on. His approach right now, he wants to hit the ball really bad and he's fighting himself. He has the bat waggling, he's worried about this thing now getting his foot down before the pitch comes. That's causing him to be late on a 90 mile per hour fastball.

So here's where Beckham starts his swing. He kicks his front foot up and forward as Tommy Hunter starts his motion toward home plate.

Here, Hunter's 90 mph fastball is well on its way to home plate and Beckham's front foot isn't down, and it's still moving.

Beckham's foot comes down here, but the ball's almost in the catcher's mitt. Of course he's going to be late.

Frank's thoughts: Changing your stance, and putting your foot down, and trying to let you hands work and all that stuff, there's a lot going through your mind when you only have less than a second to really react to the baseball.

Beckham is way late on the pitch, producing a foul tip of the swing.
Frank's thoughts: This new thing might be good for him down the road, but right now he's fighting himself. He's late on everything, his swing is long. He's just a little bit off. Right now, mentally he's getting in a funk, and in the big leagues it's tough. It really is.

And here's the finish on the swing. Beckham took a similar swing on the next pitch and hit a weak fly ball to right field for an out.

Frank's thoughts: He might need a couple days off to really work on this new thing before he takes it back in the ballgame. But he's such a talented player. For me, this type of talent, I would go with what got me here. Because he's a very talented young ballplayer.

He's definitely far from being done. Right now, he's trying something different, and it's hard to do something new in the season which you didn't work on all spring. And before it's going to work, it's gotta go backward before it goes forward.

Who knows, three games from now he might take off and go 8-10. That's how the game is, it's full of streaks. But right now, he doesn't look hitterish at all.
Update: Beckham picked up another hit in the eighth, a slow grounder up the middle that JJ Hardy couldn't make a throw on. So he has two hits, both of which came after this analysis was posted. Maybe we'll look at Brent Morel next week.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.