MLB

White Sox 2B Beckham ready to 'let loose' in 2012

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)

After a disappointing 2011 season with the Chicago White Sox, Gordon Beckham cleared his head this offseason.

He hit .230 and struck out a career-high 111 times in 150 games last year. The problem wasn't his swing, Beckham said, but his approach.

''I was a little timid,'' he explained. ''It's not how I roll.''

Even his dad noticed he wasn't himself.

Beckham's batting average has dropped each season since he hit .270 in 2009 as a rookie with the White Sox, who made him the eighth overall pick of the 2008 draft out of Georgia. His RBI totals have also decreased from 63 in 2009 to 44 last season, and his home runs dipped from 14 in 2009 to 10 last season.

His dad, Gordon Beckham Jr., encouraged him to let loose.

''It's hard to hear that from your dad, that he didn't even recognize who you were,'' Beckham said. ''That's hard, but it's what I needed to hear. I knew I needed to change. I changed.''

The 25-year-old second baseman arrived at spring training Saturday seven pounds lighter and with a fresh mindset.

This offseason in Atlanta, he took a month and a half off from thinking about baseball and relaxed. He said he stopped worrying about other people's expectations.

''It's not important,'' he said. ''It's not important to me. It used to be. It's not anymore.''

With a new manager in Robin Ventura and a new hitting coach in Jeff Manto, both Beckham and the White Sox are starting fresh. As Beckham and other hitters such as Adam Dunn and Alex Rios struggled, Chicago finished 79-83 and third in the AL Central last year.

''When you're struggling and the team is struggling, it's just not much fun,'' Beckham said. ''It's not easy to come to work and work and try to get over something. There's no excuses here. You show up to the field and you do your work and you hope for the best, and last year it wasn't our year.

''This is a new year. We have new coaches, a lot of people who want to do well. We're motivated.''

Ventura said he'll assess Beckham, Dunn and Rios throughout spring training.

''Their approach, you can just tell when guys are playing to potential and when they're kind of getting down because sometimes that can swallow you up,'' Ventura said. ''(We're) looking for them to do obviously more than they did last year.''

Notes: Kosuke Fukudome arrived in camp and met several of his new teammates. The former Chicago Cubs outfielder agreed Feb. 14 to a one-year contract that guarantees him $1 million. He gets $500,000 this year and the White Sox hold a $3.5 million option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout. He'll provide outfield depth and a left-handed bat. ''I'm happy I'm able to come back to Chicago, just moving across town,'' Fukudome said through a translator. Fukudome has hit .260 in 572 major league games and was an All-Star in 2008. The White Sox were interested in acquiring him four years ago but he signed a $48 million, four-year contract with the Cubs before the 2008 season. He was traded to Cleveland last July and still owns a home in Chicago. ''The Sox gave me a chance to play, and that's all I was asking for,'' he said. ''I'm really looking forward to prove what I can do.''

Tagged: White Sox, Kosuke Fukudome, Gordon Beckham

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