Beckham, who has been the Opening Day second baseman for the White Sox for the past four seasons, is nearly recovered from a surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand.
And from every indication, he appeared to be ready very soon. Then, word came from the White Sox that Beckham had suffered a setback:
Prior to the soreness the team reported, he had been on a roll.
Following Thursday night’s game for the Knights, Beckham was hitting .318 with five runs scored and a .375 OBP. He has also started one game at shortstop and has been the designated hitter.
While MLB.com’s Ethan Asofsky noted that Robin Ventura downplayed the significance of his time at short, it may be an indication of which direction the White Sox want to head with the 25-man roster when Beckham is activated.
That segues nicely into the next topic: Whose spot will Beckham take?
With pitching at a premium on the South Side, the decision will likely come down to a choice between Casper Wells and Tyler Greene.
An interesting case could be made for both men.
Wells is considered to be an above-average outfielder who can play all three positions, and he hits left-handed pitching very well, per Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors. With four other outfielders on the roster, though, keeping a fifth one may be a luxury the Sox cannot afford.
Wells is also out of options, and should the White Sox decide that Beckham will take his spot, he would have to be designated for assignment and clear waivers before being optioned.
Greene, on the other hand, is much faster than Wells, has some value as a platoon infielder and can be a pinch runner in late-inning situations.
Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors noted that unlike Wells, however, “the White Sox can control Greene for a while if he proves useful.”
Couple Greene’s contract situation with Beckham’s recent re-acquaintance to the shortstop position, and his demotion to Triple-A will be the most likely decision for general manager Rick Hahn.
Had Jeff Keppinger been able to get off to even a mediocre start, Beckham’s return would not be as highly anticipated. But after beginning the season with a .204 average and one home run, Keppinger has made Beckham’s value to the team palpable.
He will immediately improve the defense, which has been a surprise shortcoming for the White Sox thus far. Turning a double play will become routine, and hitting the cut-off man will not be such an adventure.
Beckham will also provide some unexpected stability to the bottom of the order.
How times have changed.
If someone would have said when the 2013 season began that the White Sox would miss Beckham’s presence as much as they have, I would have scoffed, chuckled or flat-out laughed.
Well, the humble pie is served, and the tune has changed.
And even though Beckham suffered a setback, his arrival cannot come soon enough.
The White Sox need him.