Guillen: Beckham is 'our project'

CHICAGO -- When White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham arrived in the big leagues in 2009, names like Paul Molitor and Kirby Puckett were being thrown out as comparisons, and, early on, it was evident why.

Beckham was solid in his first year with the Sox, putting up a slash line of .270/.347/.460 (batting average, on-base, slugging). Those numbers have slipped in each of the past two years, falling to .252/.317/.378 in 2010 and all the way down to .231/.291/.327 through 131 games in 2011.

Of course, Beckham isn’t the only guy who’s struggling -- Alex Rios and Adam Dunn are having two of the worst season in recent memory. However, manager Ozzie Guillen isn’t going to go out his way to counsel those two veterans.

“I will talk to one guy [when the season ends],” Guillen said. “It will be my second baseman. He’s a kid. He’s our project. Those guys, they are not my project. They should know what they should do. They should know how to prepare themselves to go to Spring Training ready to go. But my second baseman, I guess we should give him a plan for what we expect.”

Guillen blamed himself and the White Sox for putting too much pressure, too soon on Beckham.

“We put this kid in a position to become the savior, the next face of the franchise,” Guillen said. “I think we [didn't] handle him that good. I’m going to talk to him about it. You are going to bat what you are going to hit and don’t worry about anything else. You are not the man here. I will take pressure off of him. He [started] very good and all of a sudden went down and started [putting] a lot of pressure on himself. We should be treating him like the way we treated [Brent] Morel and [Dayan] Viciedo.”

The White Sox were very patient with Viciedo, some say almost too patient, being sure not to rush the talented Cuban before finally bringing him back to the big leagues in late August. Morel was never labeled as anything but a defensive specialist and there were little to no expectations for him on the offensive side of things.

Guillen praised Beckham’s defense, saying he’s worked very hard to get to the point he’s at now, which is one of the best gloves at second base in the game. Beckham played shortstop in college and spent his first season with the White Sox as a third baseman. Guillen added that there was little doubt in his mind that Beckham would be his starting second baseman come Opening Day 2012.

“Yes, unless we sign Roberto Alomar,” Guillen said with a laugh. “It is what it is. [His teammates] don’t help him offensively. Then he look very bad. He’s not good. I don’t protect him. We expect better things from him, but his teammates don’t help at all offensively this year.”