- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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It marks somewhat of a return to the glory days for Beckham, who was never better than he was as a rookie in 2009, when he played 102 games at third. The following season he was moved to second base full time and never did quite match the magic of his first major-league season.
By no means are the White Sox done with Conor Gillaspie at this point, but on days that Beckham plays third he has managed to deliver positives.
In addition to Beckham getting a third-base start Thursday in the finale of a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians, manager Robin Ventura also had Emilio Bonifacio at second base. That duo started together May 13 at Milwaukee, pacing the White Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Brewers.
They also were in the same starting lineup May 17 at Oakland, although Bonifacio was the designated hitter that day. The White Sox won again, beating the A’s 7-3 to complete a three-game sweep.
“We’ve done this in the last week or two and it’s always been a good group to get in there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s kind of an energy group.”
What makes that lineup most intriguing that the White Sox are facing a right-hander in the Cleveland Indians' Danny Salazar. When Beckham gets starts at third it typically is against left-handed pitching since Gillaspie bats from the left side.
Thursday’s lineup could be a sign that Beckham is in line for more starts regardless of pitcher, although his chance also is a nod to the fact that Salazar has held left-handed hitters to a .211 batting average this season and a .655 OPS, while right-handers have a .254 batting average with a .781 OPS against him.
“We’re not really facing lefties for a while, so you want to at least get those guys in there, keep them fresh,” Ventura said.
Gillaspie's offense has not met expectations to date with a .261 batting average and a .424 slugging percentage. But it still is better than Beckham, who is batting .239 with a .413 slugging percentage in half the at-bats. Beckham does have nine RBIs in his 46 at-bats compared to Gillaspie’s 10 RBIs in 92 at-bats.
But the White Sox have already made a decision with the nod to defense recently when Carlos Sanchez was installed as the second baseman last week over Micah Johnson, who was sent back to Triple-A Charlotte. They could be willing to make another defensive-minded decision, although it would be tough for them to risk less offense when their hitting has been so inconsistent.
The third-base platoon is expected to remain for now, but depending on what Beckham can do with his chances, that could change. Then again, third base could be a position the White Sox target if they are interested in making an upgrade between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.