Beckham gets chance with ChiSox

Updated: June 4, 2009, 5:11 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham tried to sleep and 20 minutes after he shut off the TV, he knew there was no way it was going to happen. He was still revved up, his emotions running too high after getting the news he waited all his life to hear.

Beckham was going to the major leagues to join the White Sox. He got the word after Wednesday night's game with Triple-A Charlotte and, after a sleepless night, he caught a 7:15 a.m. flight to Chicago before landing in the starting lineup Thursday afternoon against Oakland.

"I couldn't even describe it," Beckham said, recalling his feelings when Charlotte manager Chris Chambliss delivered the message.

"It's one of those things where you think about it a lot, but you don't really understand what it feels like until you get called up, until they sit you down and say, 'You're going to the big leagues.' It was one of those feelings I will never forget, for sure."

Beckham made the majors 364 days after he was drafted No. 8 overall by Chicago last summer. At 22, he is the fastest White Sox first-rounder to reach the majors since pitcher Alex Fernandez made it in 58 days in 1990.

A shortstop during his standout college career at Georgia, where he was SEC player of the year in 2008 and led the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish at the College World Series, Beckham will mostly play third base with the White Sox. He'll also fill in at shortstop and second.

Josh Fields, who was supposed to replace Joe Crede at third, has been inconsistent. Fields, batting .244 with two homers and 54 strikeouts, will be a backup and could also play some first base.

Beckham began the season at Double-A Birmingham and was promoted to Charlotte on May 28. Combined in the two stops, he batted .326 with four homers, 23 doubles and 25 RBIs in 45 games.

Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen, who said earlier this season that if the White Sox had to call up Beckham it would show they were in trouble, promised to get his newest infielder plenty of at-bats.

"We can use him at a lot of different positions. ... I'm going to give this kid a great shot to play. Give me good at-bats," Guillen said, adding he likes Beckham's cockiness because it's a show of confidence and not hotdogging.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm excited," the manager added. "I hope this kid [has] a great career for us and that's what we're looking for."

Beckham said he's become more acclimated at third base after making six starts there for Charlotte. During his minor league stint this season, he appeared in 32 games at shortstop, eight at third base and four at second. He also played 14 games -- 13 at shortstop -- for Class-A Kannapolis last summer after signing in August.

Alexei Ramirez, a star last season as a rookie with the White Sox, has been moved from second to shortstop this season, so that spot is not open.

"If you can play short, you can play the other positions on the field," Beckham said. "I hope I can make all the plays. This is a game of errors. If it happens, it happens. But I feel comfortable and I'm ready."

General manager Ken Williams said he expects Beckham to stay, now that's he arrived.

"We're certainly not going into it with the idea that we're going to send him down," Williams said. "In fact I have it in my mind, even if he does struggle initially, sort of along the lines of Robin Ventura and his struggles when he came up -- if you believe in the talent, you believe in the talent."

First baseman Paul Konerko said college players can sometimes make the jump quickly to the majors without as much minor league seasoning. Beckham played in only 59 minor league games.

"I'm sure it all happened kind of fast for him," Konerko said. "He was a college player and one of the best ones -- if not the best -- and those guys are a little more polished and need less time."

Beckham is no stranger to the White Sox clubhouse. He was invited to spring training, where he had a locker next to veteran catcher A.J Pierzynski, not shy about sharing his opinion, playing a joke or lending advice.

"I needed it, you know. It kind of helped me understand my place and I liked that," Beckham said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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