For the first time in his seven-year major league career, Gordon Beckham got to play shortstop U.S. Cellular Field.
Beckham, who was drafted eighth overall as a shortstop out of Georgia in 2008, started in place of Alexei Ramirez for the White Sox series finale against Houston on Wednesday night. The 28-year-old started at shortstop last month and previously filled in there as an in-game replacement this April and in 2013, though all those games came on the road.
Beckham said it’s “kinda cool” he’s finally come full circle on playing shortstop with the team that drafted him.
“I definitely feel like it’s my most natural position,” he said. “Not being there for years, when I went over there and took ground balls it felt normal. I feels comfortable doing that yeah, I’m excited to play.”
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Beckham made two starts and one substitute appearance at shortstop with the Angels last year after he was dealt to Southern California in an August waiver-wire trade. Manager Robin Ventura thinks that month-and-a-half sabbatical to Anaheim helped Beckham upon his return to Chicago, where he’s earned playing time beyond his expected utility role through the first third of the season.
He’s tailed off a bit recently at the plate — entering Wednesday, he was hitless in his previous four games, an 0-for-13 stretch — but has played good defense with enough consistency to keep him in the lineup. Beckham earned his 26th start in game No. 57 for the White Sox, far more than fellow utility man Emilio Bonifacio, who started his 12th game for the White Sox on Wednesday.
“I don’t think he’s trying to be the focal point of anything,” Ventura said. “He’s just trying to be a good baseball player. He’s not worrying about where he was drafted, any of the expectations or hype or stuff that goes with it. There is a bit of a ease that he has now that he didn’t have the best couple of year.”
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Coming off the bench and sporadically starting has nonetheless been an adjustment for Beckham, who started 722 games for the White Sox from 2009 through 2014. But he knew what he was getting into when he signed on to return to the White Sox in January and said it’s been so far, so good.
“It’s met and exceeded (my expectations),” Beckham said. “I knew I was going to have to work to get back in there as much as I am now. I earned that, so I’ve just got to go out and keep earning it.”