CHICAGO -- At the end of the 2010 regular season, A.J. Pierzynski became a free agent. He went through that process smoothly, eventually re-signing with the White Sox on a two-year, $8-million deal.
It was the start of the 2010 campaign, with free agency pending, that Pierzynski didn't handle very well by his own admission. He was batting an uncharacteristic .211 by the end of May and had to spend June digging himself out of the early hole.
With free agency on the horizon once again after the season, Pierzynski has entered this potential walk-away year with a much better frame of mind. That mindset has helped produce a .387 average, with Pierzynski consistently driving the ball and leading the team with 11 RBIs.
"I'm in a better place than where I've been for a few years as far as being comfortable where I'm at and what I'm doing," Pierzynski said. "Two years ago, I was in the same situation as a possible free agent, and I just didn't go about it the right way.
"Now I look at it like if this is it, this is it, as opposed to  when I was really trying to do too much. So, in that regard, it's different."
As for being in line for a career year amidst a highly successful 15-year-run, Pierzynski laughs at the suggestion on April 17.
"We are only nine games in so it's still really early," Pierzynski said.
Beckham puts his foot down after rough start
CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham hopes to put his foot down on this season-opening slump by literally putting his foot down in each at-bat.
The talented White Sox second baseman exited Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Baltimore hitting a mere .103 (3-for-29) without an RBI but with 11 strikeouts. His swing has regularly featured a front left foot lift, but following a third-inning strikeout against Jake Arrieta on Monday, Beckham made a change.
That lift became a less pronounced step during two hard-hit fly balls and a popup to second. It's progress made in Beckham's mind.
"It was 0-for-4 last night, but it was a strikeout and then hard hit, a miss and relatively better than I've been doing," said Beckham, sitting in front of his locker before Tuesday's game. "There was a lot of progress there which people probably don't see but that I saw last night.
"I actually made a really good adjustment. And then today, I came in and they said something that reaffirmed that I made the right decision. Then we furthered that because they kind of reinforced what I did last night was what they were wanting, what they were kind of hoping would happen.
"I'm not getting ready on time," said Beckham of his plate approach. "We are trying to clean that up. If I can get ready on time, then it has been said there's nothing wrong with my swing. It's a timing thing, making sure I'm getting my foot down in terms of being able to see the pitch."
Beckham hit just .230 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in 2011, and his statistics have steadily declined since his 2009 breakout when he won The Sporting News' American League Rookie of the Year award and the Players Choice Outstanding Rookie award. A rough start clearly is not what Beckham was looking for, but having survived two hits in his first 28 at-bats during his rookie season, Beckham is confident he can battle out of this early funk.
"Once I have a good game here and it's coming, once I have a good game, the average and the whole thing will start bumping up, and I'll start getting in the swing of things and it will be everyday stuff," Beckham said confidently. "But it's frustrating to start the beginning of the year how I started.
"I've been here before. I just have to keep working and there's light at the end of the tunnel in my opinion. That's a good thing. I just know that there's more in there.
"There's too much time left for me that I'm excited to get what's coming to me," Beckham said. "I'm not going to let however many games I've played get me down. It's just not going to happen."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura added Tuesday that any talks he has with Beckham simply focus on how he can get better in 2012.
"We are worried about what we are doing now," Ventura said. "We are worried about becoming confident and aware of this year rather than something that happened in the last couple of years."
Santiago knows importance of short memory
CHICAGO -- Although Hector Santiago didn't hear directly from Mariano Rivera, arguably Major League Baseball's greatest closer, some words of wisdom from the closer shared by a friend from back home helped him quickly get through Monday's blown save.
"He had an interview from Mariano," Santiago said. "And Mariano was saying the best thing with him is it doesn't matter what the situation: you blow the save and you have to forget about it the next day.
"If he says it, it's definitely something you should listen to and go with. He was blowing Game 7 [of the 2001 World Series] and coming out the next year and doing it all over again like no problem."
Santiago was ready to get back out again in the ninth, knowing his appearance means the White Sox are probably winning and would help both get over Monday's tough setback.
"I feel confident," Santiago said. "I feel I can get it done."
Ventura knows cold climate can slow bats
CHICAGO -- The U.S. Cellular Field reputation as a great hitters' park doesn't really come into play until June, when the weather turns. As for April?
"In Chicago, it's a lot different because it's cold, the ball doesn't carry," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You have to hit it perfectly. You have to get lucky at the same time. You have to hit it in the direction that the wind is carrying to have any luck.
"So there is a lot of different factors. Pitchers love it when it's cold and windy and wet. But you just have to battle and get your hits when you can. You can't worry about power numbers or anything like that. You are more worried about just putting the ball in play hard."
Slumping White Sox hitters such as Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel and even Adam Dunn and Alex Rios shouldn't worry about Ventura making changes before the weather starts to turn.
"They are here," Ventura said. "It's one of those that we are going to figure it out more than they have to worry about what their position is."
• A triple for Alejandro De Aza leading off the eighth inning of Friday's 5-2 victory over the Tigers was changed to an error on left fielder Delmon Young by Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. The overturn of the official scoring call, where Young turned in circles while battling the wind on the fly ball, made both runs scored in the inning unearned off of Daniel Schlereth.
• The White Sox officially have the 13th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, held on June 4-6.
• Paul Konerko's 10-game hitting streak came to an end during Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles.
• The White Sox are 9-for-40 (.225) with runners in scoring position during the homestand.