On Thursday morning, the White Sox activated Gordon Beckham from the disabled list following a bout with an oblique strain. Manager Robin Ventura assured Beckham that he would resume his role as the club’s starting second baseman, but the White Sox have a bit of a playing time problem on their hands.
Marcus Semien filled in admirably for Beckham. While he wasn’t a world-beater with the bat, he had some timely hits — including a go-ahead grand slam against the Tigers on Wednesday — and played plus defense. The White Sox also have used Leury Garcia a few times at second base and he posted a .708 OPS in the opportunities he was given.
With Beckham earning $4.175 million this season with one more year of arbitration eligibility left, Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago writes that the club could explore a trade.
The White Sox are flush with second-base prospects, with Semien merely being at the head of that pack. Leury Garcia has the ability to play there, as does Carlos Sanchez at Triple-A and Micah Johnson, who is proving to be one of the top prospects in the entire organization with his production, at Double-A.
Beckham has one more year of arbitration eligibility, but the White Sox are obviously in position to go a different route. If Beckham is productive over the next three months, he would become a valuable trade asset by the July 31 deadline for non-waiver deals.
Beckham, 27, was hyped as a prospect going into the 2009 season. But in nearly 2,500 career plate appearances in the big leagues, he has posted a meager .693 OPS. He is entering his sixth season and has posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of the last four seasons.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.