Tim Beckham works to grasp new position, new chance with Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles third baseman Tim Beckham has a few things to look forward to this season. The challenge of playing a new position in third base for one. For two, he has a chance to get everyday at-bats for a team for the first time through a full season.

He knows playing time is not guaranteed, but Beckham looks forward to the chance to be an O’s regular in 2018.

“It’s very exciting,” Beckham said. “You know you just want to keep your eye on the prize though. Keep having fun and playing good baseball.”

Drafted with the overall No. 1 pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Beckham never quite got the everyday shot with the Tampa Bay Rays. He got 223 plate appearances in 2015, 216 in 2016 and 345 last season when he did get more playing time before he was traded to the Orioles. Beckham prefers to look to his future much more than his past.

Tim-Beckham-swing-orange-sidebar.jpg“I mean Tampa is over with man. We don’t have to talk about Tampa. I’m here in Baltimore now. Time to come over here, play good baseball and win,” he said.

The Orioles traded young pitching prospect Tobias Myers to Tampa Bay last July 31 to get Beckham. After the deal, Myers went 2-0 with a 3.08 ERA for the short-season Single-A Hudson Valley Renegades. He posted a 38-4 strikeout to walks ratio over 26 1/3.

But the Orioles got Beckham and have him under team control through the 2020 season.

When Beckham first got to Baltimore, his bat was unstoppable for a while. His first five games were all multi-hit efforts where he went 13-for-20 (.650) with three doubles and three homers. He wound up hitting .306/.348/.523 over 50 games.

Beckham recorded 50 hits in August. According to Elias Sports, it was the second-most hits in a calendar month in Orioles history. Cal Ripken Jr. had 53 in September of 1983.

“It’s a very good fit. I’m blessed to be here,” Beckham said. “Everything that went down, it was a blessing for me. I look forward to doing a lot of things this year to help this club win ballgames. Everyone welcomed me here. I could not have asked for a better welcoming from the team. I just wanted to come here, stay on top of my job and help these guys win.”

This spring Beckham is batting .275 (14-for-51) in 17 games with three homers and eight RBIs.

But it is his defense at third that is getting most of the attention and questions from reporters. Beckham has made just five career starts at the position. So far though, he’s made a smooth transition to playing there and looks very natural at the hot corner next to Manny Machado at short and Jonathan Schoop at second.

“You know, baseball is hard enough as it is, so wanted to just keep it simple,” Beckham said. “Don’t think too much. Just catch the ball and throw the ball. Do that consistently and you’ll help the team. Getting this chance is very exciting and I am embracing it now and will all year.”

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