Beckham focused solely on game of baseball

Beckham focused solely on game of baseball

Beckham focused solely on game of baseball
CHICAGO -- Go to the Giordano's website and you'll find something more than the ability to order arguably the best stuffed pizza in Chicago.

A 31-second video exists, supposedly featuring a staff meeting on a nondescript Monday morning at one of the restaurants. White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is in attendance.

As the restaurant manager talks about last week's big sales, he sees Beckham, wearing a Giordano's shirt and White Sox uniform pants, swinging a bat off to the side.

"Beckham? What are you doing?" the Giordano's manager announces. "You are not batting cleanup. I said, 'Go clean up.'"

This bit is part of a "Get stuffed with Gordon Beckham and Giordano's" promotion, where winning "a once in a lifetime dinner" with Beckham stands as the ultimate prize for those who enter. Here's a little piece of advice for those who haven't already watched Beckham's silent acting chops in action:

Study it and remember it, because there won't be many -- if any -- more endorsements coming from the White Sox second baseman during the 2011 season.

"This year, I'm going to make my money on the field, not off the field," Beckham said during a Thursday phone interview with MLB.com. "I've been offered a couple of different opportunities, but I've declined them, respectfully."

Coming into the 2010 season, Beckham was the White Sox star on the rise, and not just on the field. Sure, winning a pair of 2009 Rookie of the Year Awards, as voted on by his peers, helped garner more than a little attention, but the mature way Beckham carried himself and the outgoing and respectful manner in which he did interviews and talked to people made Beckham a prime target for outside requests.

He was 23, with just 103 Major League games under his belt, and he already was being treated as an established presence. Beckham even had a twice-weekly appearance on The Score, WSCR 670 AM, which serves as the White Sox flagship station. That relationship has been tabled until future notice following Beckham's sophomore struggles.

"There will be some time to revisit [radio work], but for the most part, I'm locked in and this is all about baseball," Beckham said. "Last year was a real big struggle, and it was tough to talk to people after struggling.

"Having a radio show two days per week, you always have to hear about those struggles, and it wore on me. This year, I'm focused on what I need to do. It makes a lot of sense to me. I've opened up in a good mindset and I'm all ready to go."

Cutting down off-the-field commitments doesn't mean Beckham will be avoiding the media or his admirable work in the community. Beckham is passionately connected to the Out of the Park for Parkinson's campaign he started in 2010, which raised $60,000 for the non-profit National Parkinson's Foundation in its first year. He also works with Paul and Jennifer Konerko and Jim and Andrea Thome through their Bring Me Home Campaign, which started in '07 to raise support for the needs of foster children.

Konerko's ongoing presence, along with the return of A.J. Pierzynski and the addition of Adam Dunn, should benefit Beckham's quest for a bounce-back season. If the White Sox had decided to rebuild, meaning this trio and quite possibly other veterans would not have been in Chicago, then Beckham would likely have been the new face of the franchise.

That responsibility in just his second full season, as Beckham tries to develop his game, would be too much for the most mature young player to handle.

"They handle a lot of that media stuff," Beckham said of Pierzynski and Konerko, naming Konerko as a strong positive influence on helping get Beckham out of 2010's slump. "The great news is they are back so I don't have to deal with more of a heavier load."

A direct correlation has never been made by Beckham between his radio show or outside appearances and his miserable 2010 start. Simply put, Beckham didn't handle an April showing -- a .235 average, one home run and four RBIs -- very well, and his average slipped to .199 with still one home run and 16 RBIs as late as June 23.

Beckham eventually got back on track, batting .310 from June 24 to the season's conclusion, but he lost the last half of September due to a bruised right hand. It was the same injury he suffered on Aug. 30 that hampered his first half of September, when Beckham went 6-for-32.

Physically healthy and mentally stronger from getting through his worst period as a baseball player, Beckham has been ready to go since December. He joined the Twitter world, but those handful of personal messages should mark about as far as Beckham plans to veer off of actual baseball during the upcoming eight months.

"I had high expectations for myself going into the 2010 season, but the expectations I placed on myself and from other people, it became a lot," Beckham said. "It wasn't a lot until I started struggling.

"When you start struggling and don't immediately meet those expectations, you go into panic mode a little bit, and I did. That's growing up and learning how to play baseball. That's being a young guy and not understanding how to manage expectations. Mentally, I'm a lot better than I was last year.

"Baseball really is all I care about and all I want to do, and other than my commitments with the charities, my marketing is going to be pretty much nil," Beckham said. "It's the best remedy for last year. I'm older, smarter and have more of a clue. I've been through the worst time of my life and got out of it. That says a lot. Now, I want to be fun to watch every day."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen and follow him on twitter at @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.