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.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.