CHICAGO -- Before Paul Konerko had reached 500 plate appearances in his illustrious career that, entering Monday, spans 9,421 trips to the plate, he had been traded twice. The first baseman went from the Dodgers to the Reds on July 4, 1998, and then from the Reds to his home with the White Sox on Nov. 11, 1998.
Konerko learned at any early age that baseball is a tough game, a tough business, and "all you can kind of do is be tough back" as he stated pregame on Monday. It's the sort of wisdom Konerko can impart upon Gordon Beckham, his friend and teammate, who is dealing with perpetual trade rumblings for yet another year.
"It's part of the gig. You have to block out a lot of things, and take the field and do your job," Konerko said. "The team you get drafted by, when you get traded from that team, I think there's always a soft spot in your heart for the team you got drafted by because you envision yourself doing all the things you want to do in your career with that team."
Beckham became the White Sox's top pick and the eighth selection overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, bursting on to the scene as an American League Rookie of the Year in '09 as voted on by his peers. His numbers since have not reached that lofty status, and with infielders Micah Johnson, Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien coming fast behind him in the White Sox system, and Beckham earning $4,175,000 with one year of arbitration remaining, he could be deemed expandable.
A move by the White Sox, though, would indicate other teams seeing value in Beckham as Konerko explained.
"For Gordon, it's a different situation here as far as he came up and did everything right off the bat, and that set the tone of what it should look like here," Konerko said. "But a lot of teams look at him and see he's a winning player, what he does defensively, all these things that aren't the glamorous stats that he put up right away, and people figured that will happen without question.
"Even though that hasn't happened as much as he wanted, that doesn't mean he couldn't be on a playoff team or World Series team doing what he's doing. That's why you see those rumors because there are a lot of teams that look at him and say, 'We don't care what White Sox fans or the White Sox thought he could be. This guy can help us win games.' He has to deal with that. He's a big boy. He'll be all right."