Gordon Beckham has the ideal qualifications for a utility infielder, in that he was a below-average starting infielder for several years. More specifically, he was good glove, bad bat guy who was drafted as a shortstop, and spent his MLB career getting reps at second and third base. The concern was that he would be misused. Then there was some mild Spring Training concern that he was completely washed up, but mostly it was concern that he would be misused.
On Wednesday, he was perfectly used. Beckham came in to pinch-run after Conor Gillaspie's last opportunity to face the right-handed starter produced a hit in the sixth inning, and played aggressive and precise defense the last three innings. A diving stab in the seventh inning produced an immediate "Good thing Gordon is in the game" moment in the seventh.
It helps to have the ideal partner. Conor Gillaspie can't run, field, or really do anything better than Beckham other than hit right-handers, and is so ridiculously neutralized by lefties that once the opposing manager is getting to the point of pulling his right-handed starter, Robin Ventura can start thinking about making his move. And if he botches it, he can try again with Emilio Bonifacio. Since Emilio has all of 10 plate appearances thus far, I'm pretty sure that's actually his purpose on the team.
It helps a lot more that Beckham has started the year on one of his government-mandated spurts of competence with the bat, and that Gillaspie has started so cold that no "he can be our full-time third baseman" hoopla has started. But for now, it's the perfect role for Beckham and he looks comfortable.
Now...It would be nice if Robin Ventura realized he has a similar situation with Adam LaRoche. Since 2013, LaRoche has hit .201/.268/.324 against lefties, including a miserable 3-16, 8K start to 2015. He used to not be awful against lefties, but he is now. He's 35. You lose things as you age and he's lost this.
He shouldn't be starting in an offense-centric position against these sinister throwers, and keeping him in the middle of the lineup in late-inning situations where LOOGYs are getting thrown at him isn't much better.
The Sox haven't given themselves a ton of options in this respect, since their bench is focused on defense and positional flexibility rather than keeping Dayan hanging around to wail on Bruce Chen once a month. Rotating Avisail into the DH would reduce his opportunities to kill himself in the field and improve the defense with J.B. Shuck. If Geovany Soto's bat is still alive--early returns aren't very promising--he's a career .285/.376/.481 hitters versus southpaws. There's no magic bullet, but there are a lot of right-handed...dudes on this roster who can give a better effort than a 35-year-old platoon masher who has to go to war with his back just to play first base as is. The Sox played Brent Lillibridge at first base because a series of tragedies made him the best option for a time and the fans didn't completely abandon the franchise, so they'll stick through some creativity with this.