After watching Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel struggle through the entire first month of the season, White Sox manager Robin Ventura for the first time talked about a limit to his patience with his young infielders.
That was before the Sox' 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Eventually you probably have to do something,'' Ventura said out of earshot of the struggling duo.
Consider them warned. And as if responding to the veiled threat, Beckham responded with his first home run of the season on his first at-bat, a 394-foot shot to left against Ubaldo Jimenez. He also singled to right in his next two at-bats, driving in Morel with one after Morel singled and stole second.
Morel went into the game batting .178 with three RBI and 26 strikeouts. Beckham was at .153 and two RBI, 16 strikeouts and a team-high four double plays.
"I'm still confident they're going to perform,'' Ventura said before the game. "But eventually it gets to the point where you would have to make a move if it would stay like that. But right now I'm not going to do that.''
Beckham and Morel, who were rested in the Sox' most recent game Sunday against the Red Sox, are far from being "back.'' One good game does not establish that, but Tuesday's was a start.
"I just wanted to get back to be being me and doing what I'm capable of doing,'' Beckham said. "For the most part I have been getting myself out. It was nice to do some damage.''
Ventura can relate, having gone through an 0-for-41 slump as a rookie. Maybe that's why his leash is so long for Beckham-Morel.
"They have to get to that point that they don't care about that and it'll turn around for them,'' Ventura said.
Beckham's homer started a wild third half of the inning for the Sox. The smoke from the fireworks that followed was so thick, it caused Indians third baseman Jason Donald to lose Alejandro De Aza's pop up which fell for a double. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera muffed a routine grounder by Alexei Ramirez, and after walks to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, Cabrera dropped A.J. Pierzynski's pop-up on the pitcher's mound. But Pierzynski was out on the infield-fly rule. The Sox pushed in two more runs on a fielder's choice by Alex Rios and an infield single by Dayan Viciedo.
Pierzynski opened the scoring with a 418-foot homer, his fifth, in the second inning.
Chris Sale (3-1) threw 88 pitches in six innings, a light night's work on five days rest that falls in line with the Sox' plan to watch his workload in his first season of starting.
Hector Santiago pitched a shaky but scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.
Sale gave up three hits and one walk while striking out three.
''I'm trying to build on each and every outing,'' Sale said. "And learn something from each outing -- good, bad or indifferent. I've said it before: It takes a tremendous amount of pressure off me when you go out and swing the bats the way we did today. It was like an explosion went off. It was fun to watch. It's easier to pitch in those games when you got six, seven runs.
"Honestly, I just follow whatever game plan A.J. had for me, and whatever fingers he was throwing down, I was going with it. He did a great job behind the plate, mixing in and out, up and down, and slow, fast. Like I said before, just putting all my faith and trust in him and going with whatever he's got."