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Beckham holding hope for hot June

Beckham holding hope for hot June

ST. PETERSBURG -- How deep has this 2010 slump cut Gordon Beckham, voted by his peers as the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year?

It's starting to cross over the line from baseball to his personal life, with the so-called "experts" to fix Beckham's game coming out of the proverbial woodwork.

"Someone posted on my Facebook page about my swing. I had no idea who he is," said Beckham with a laugh of his popular Facebook page. "He said I was flying open, which is definitely not what I'm doing.

"I don't know if I de-friended him. I erased the post. But I can only look at what I've done recently, and what I've done recently is enough to get it done. It's just that not everything is falling for me."

Beckham has maintained an exceedingly upbeat attitude during one of the most trying times he has faced as a baseball player. With the second baseman being out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale at Tropicana Field, Beckham finished May with a dismal .196 average, .239 slugging percentage and .286 on-base percentage.

His only home run came on April 11 at home against the Twins, a span of 142 at-bats since he last went deep. And Beckham was unable to knock out a single extra-base hit during May, a statistic surprising even Beckham.

Even with these unpleasant numbers staring him in the face, Beckham still believes good times are ahead. He points to a 3-for-10 showing over the first three games of the Tampa Bay series as a step forward, and even mentioned a long fly out to left field in the fourth inning Saturday coming up just short of a three-run home run.

"I'm not saying my swing is bad, because I feel I'm hitting the ball hard," Beckham said. "The way it's going right now, I'm hitting the ball hard. But the way it's going now is I'm hitting three balls hard and one is falling, as opposed to two or possibly three. I'm ready for June to start. I got hot at the end of June last year. Only another 30 more days to get to that point."

During his highly successful rookie campaign, Beckham didn't get a hit until June 9, after making his first start on June 4. He had two hits in his first 28 at-bats and still finished with a .270 average, 14 home runs and 63 RBIs.

That tremendous showing raised the expectations for Beckham's first full season, to the point where some people expected him to be a team leader as well as a prime contributor.

"There were expectations placed on me, and Paul [Konerko] told me that it's always tough to play with expectations," Beckham said. "Last year, I came in and no one had expectations, and then I did what I did last year, and they assumed that you multiply that by two months and you're getting this. It's not always like that.

"Baseball is not always fair, but there's no saying I can't get back to where I was last year. I did everything I did last year from 10 days from now. I didn't get a hit until June 9. You got to look at it like that. At least I got a head start and got one home run in two months and some RBIs, but I'm not worried about it. I feel good where I'm at and Tuesday [against Texas], I guess the next time I'm in there, I'll be ready to go."

Manager Ozzie Guillen has given Beckham three mental-health breaks, but basically has picked those breaks against tough right-handed starters such as Tampa Bay's James Shields on Sunday. With no other viable options at second, aside from Jayson Nix and Omar Vizquel splitting time, Beckham will continue to anchor the starting job he earned coming into the 2010 season.

Meanwhile, Guillen has respect for the 23-year-old for the way in which he has stayed strong during the struggles.

"Gordo has handled it real well," Guillen said. "Is he going to be a good ballplayer? Yes, he's going to be a good ballplayer. How he's going to come out of this, we'll see. This is a test. How will he react to this test? Is he going to put his head down and quit or put his head down and keep fighting to be a better player, a better person?"

"Everyone wants to give their two cents," Beckham said. "You always appreciate it, but most of the time, people really don't know what you're going through. The good news is I'm out of my head. I feel like I'm going up there and having good at-bats and swinging the bat well and it's getting through the zone very quick."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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