Saturday, July 6, 2013
Beckham's move to short for the long haul
By Chris Girandola
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In Friday night's 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Gordon Beckham made his first major league appearance at shortstop, and Brent Morel did the same at first. Beckham's move to short was the most intriguing, considering he was drafted in 2008 out of the University of Georgia, with which he earned SEC Player of the Year and NCAA First-Team All-American honors as a shortstop.
The move actually fell into place for the White Sox, who were trailing 8-1 when Beckham took over for Alexei Ramirez after the seventh inning. Ramirez had played every inning this season until resting the last two frames.
"I think last night was one of those nights to get Gordon comfortable over there instead of just hitting him with it one day," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "To get him over there in the middle of the game, he's already got his adrenaline going, so it wasn't that big of a shock for him to go over there and do it. He didn't have a lot of time to think about it through batting practice. That was more of the reason."
The White Sox experimented with a variety of options as backup shortstops earlier in the season, but none have panned out to the point at which Ventura has felt comfortable replacing Ramirez for a game.
Apparently, the White Sox skipper has begun thinking of a reliable suitor for Ramirez when the need arises. During Beckham's rehabilitation stint for his surgically repaired left hand back in May, he played several innings at short for Triple-A Charlotte.
"Now [Beckham] is a little more excited about wanting to do it," Ventura said. "Don't know if he's going to do it or when he's going to do it, but now we know."
Ramirez was the last major leaguer to have played every inning this season. Last season, he became the first White Sox shortstop to appear in 135 games or more in five consecutive seasons since Ozzie Guillen did so from 1985 to 1991, including at least 156 contests each of the past three seasons.
Ventura decided to go with a lineup featuring a majority of right-handed hitters against Rays left-handed starter Matt Moore. The 24-year-old southpaw is 11-3 with a 3.65 ERA this season.
That meant rookie catcher Josh Phegley -- who made his major league debut on Friday -- would rest while Tyler Flowers started.
"Phegs wasn't going to catch both games, and then you have a day game after a night game [on Sunday], so you want to mix it up a little bit," Ventura said. "Plus, Moore is tough, so you put guys out there to face him."
Moore started out the season red hot, holding right-handed hitters to an American League low .153 batting average. Over his five starts in June, righties hit .322 (28-for-87) against Moore, the 10th-highest average in the AL during that span.
Ventura reiterated, though, that Phegley would play a substantial amount of time moving forward.
"I think as you go, if he hits, he plays more," Ventura said. "He wasn't called up to not play. Whether he splits time with Flowers at a 50-50 pace, I don't think it's going to be handled that way. It's all a matter of if he plays well, he is in there."