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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Crowd gathering behind Beckham at 2B

By Doug Padilla

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago White Sox have a glut of middle infielders coming up through the system, which means if Gordon Beckham has designs on holding his current job much longer, now is the time to show what he can do.

It seems to be the same mantra every spring: When will Beckham show the growth that his breakout 2009 season suggested?

Beckham
Two injuries slowed Gordon Beckham last season.
Over the years, Beckham's offense struggled, but he made huge strides with his second-base defense. His power numbers climbed, but his batting average and on-base percentage were not what the White Sox were looking for from a potential No. 2 hitter.

Last year, Beckham had a chance to put it all together, but first came a broken bone in his hand, then came leg issues late in the season. He played in just 103 games last season, which is the same number he played in his rookie year, interestingly enough.

Last season's on-base percentage of .322 was second to his .347 mark in his rookie year, and while his home run total was down (mostly a result of the hand injury), his slugging percentage of .372 was his best in the past three seasons.

"Last year I felt good about what I was doing, and I think it was showing on the field," said Beckham, who made his first appearance in camp Monday. "I feel like I dealt with a lot, and I felt like I had a pretty good year last year considering how healthy I was.

"To fight through that actually gives me more confidence for this year. I think I'm in a good spot and everything feels good. I just have stay healthy. If I can stay healthy, I can do what I am capable of."

Aside from getting married this offseason, Beckham added some muscle in preparation for the season.

"I weigh maybe a little more than I have in the past coming in, but I lose a lot of weight, or I have in the past, during the season, so my idea is to bulk up a little more and lose a little bit less," he said.

Maybe the strength will help him fight off all those second-base candidates lined up behind him in the system. In big league camp alone there is Carlos Sanchez, Leury Garcia, Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson, who isn't on the 40-man roster but got an invite anyway.

Beckham, who is signed for $4.175 million this season, has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining before he becomes a free agent in 2016. His rising salary combined with all those rising second-base prospects seem to be at odds, but Beckham remains focused on team goals over individual achievements.

"There are a lot of things that are different, and it's just a different season," Beckham said of the 2014 club. "Last year I think there were a lot of things that didn't go our way, and then it just steamrolled. If we get off to a little better start -- I'm not saying we have to get off to a good start -- but just go out there and do the fundamentals and try to relax and I think that it will all come together for us."