Monday, August 12, 2013
Beckham on deck for leadership role?
By Bruce Levine
Paul Konerko has handed down some baseball knowledge to Gordon Beckham.
CHICAGO -- Although Paul Konerko is the Chicago White Sox’s team leader and captain, sooner or later the torch must be passed on. The likely heir apparent to the role is Gordon Beckham.
Beckham and Konerko have spent many hours talking hitting and the game of baseball in general the past few years.
“This is not anything to talk about now,” Beckham said. “He’s our captain for a good reason. He understands the role. He understands what it takes to be successful. He is always there for (teammates) to talk to about the game. He has a lot more left in the tank and there is no reason to talk about that -- he is the guy.”
On a daily basis Konerko is asked to address the possibility that this may be his last go-around with the Sox. He also must answer questions whether or not this may be his last season in baseball.
Back problems and little aches and pains have taken a toll on Konerko, the White Sox’s only remaining player from the 2005 World Championship team. The reality of being in the last year of a contract while also contributing less than he ever has on the field adds fuel to the fire of an exit after the 2013 season.
Beckham, who is playing in his fifth season with the White Sox, has come into his own as a hitter this summer, batting .307 despite missing six weeks with a hand injury that required removing the hamate bone in his hand. The 26-year-old second baseman is looked at by some people as the next team leader once Konerko is gone.
Manager Robin Ventura is not looking forward to the day he loses his team captain to retirement or free agency.
“When you lose someone like that it becomes different,” Ventura said “Even for a guy like Gordon, because Paul has been such a big influence on him. Maybe Gordon’s voice has to get bigger. Someone has to step into (Konerko’s) shoes by leading by example and doing things the right way. You just don’t know who that will be until it happens.”
Ventura said that he will not name another player captain when Konerko departs.
“There are guys capable,” Ventura said. “I don’t know if you can do that right away but somebody evolves into that. It is not always an ascension thing, where just because you lose a leader then this is the guy. That is not an easy position to be in. Gordon is capable of doing it, but I am not just going to make him the guy. It depends who is (on the team) and how it evolves but he definitely has the qualities to do that.”
Ventura was the leader on the White Sox teams he played on from 1989 through 1998. But it is not always the best player who takes the leadership role in the clubhouse.
“You look at Cleveland and Jason Giambi is probably the voice on that team,” Ventura said. “You see how guys do things and how that team operates and you can see he is probably that guy.”