White Sox rookie 3B Gordon Beckham has put his name front and center in the AL Rookie of the Year discussion by leading all AL rookies in doubles (23), RBI (52), and extra base hits (34).
He is also dealing with a strained right oblique injury that may threaten his ability to battle Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus mano a mano for the award down the stretch.
The injury forced Beckham to leave Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning and was originally called a "stiff back." As I mentioned in a previous post, all White Sox fans have become conditioned to fear our third baseman and the term “stiff back” being placed anywhere near each other.
Luckily for Beckham and the White Sox, the injury does not appear serious and his return is likely this week. Most likely, Beckham will return on Wednesday, but the White Sox could hold him out until Friday (with an off day mercifully coming on Thursday).
Scott Merkin wrote about Beckham's injury today on his White Sox blog, “Being Ozzie Guillen,” and says that the manager is going to err on the side of caution with his young phenom, but that Guillen also wants Beckham back in the lineup when he is ready to both help the White Sox finish strong in September and compete for the Rookie of the Year.
From Merkin’s article updating the status of Gordon Beckham’s injury:
“'I want him to finish strong,' said Guillen of Beckham. 'Hopefully he can get what I want him to get, that award. He deserved and earned it. It’s our job to make sure we do the best for him to get it. We’ll talk to (White Sox athletic trainer) Herm (Schneider) about it. It’s a day game today and hopefully the long day he’ll get better.'”
Let’s hope the kid can come back and find his hitting stroke again. Beckham struggled out of the gate, then got hot, and has cooled off as of late (seven for his last 36 with only one 2B). When Beckham was hot, the White Sox were playing their best baseball of the season and threatening the Tigers' hold on the top spot in the AL Central.
Though another AL Central crown and a return trip to the playoffs seems out of reach for the White Sox in 2009, crazier things have happened. No question, the White Sox need a healthy and hitting Beckham to have even a prayer of a late September surge.
*—Gordon Beckham thumbs up photo credit: Michael O’Day via MLB.com