Beckham on third base: “I’m looking forward to it”

Tim Beckham said he found out last night, through a conversation with Orioles manager Buck Showalter, that he would move from shortstop to third base and he’s ready for it. No nerves, no reservations. He’ll do what’s needed without complaint.

“It’s exciting, man. It’s a new position for me, so I’m ready to go over and have some fun for sure,” he said during his media sesson at FanFest.

“Last night, Buck mentioned it and I’m open to it, especially if it helps the team and it’s a better fit for the team. The end goal is to win ballgames and we don’t want to lose sight of that and I don’t want to make this a big deal. You know what I mean? I’m just going to transition over there and continue to make the plays and be consistent.”

What kind of adjustments are required will be learned in time.

sidebar-Beckham-slide.jpg“Well, we’ll see,” said Beckham, who’s made five starts at third base in the majors. “Either way it goes, it’s baseball and we’ve got to catch the ball and throw the ball, so I want to keep it simple and just embrace it. I’m looking forward to it, so let’s go.”

Beckham developed a comfort zone with Manny Machado, who’s going to play shortstop, after they became teammates following the July 31 trade with the Rays. The communication was good, and the swapping of positions doesn’t appear, at least on the surface, to have caused any tension.

“It was great,” Beckham said. “We had a good relationship and that didn’t play any role in him going to short. He was originally a shortstop and that’s where his heart is. If I have to move to third base, then I’m open for it.”

It beats a utility role and sporadic starts. One position and a steady diet of at-bats.

“For me, it’s definitely important,” he said. “I mean, it’s more of a comfort level when you’re in the lineup every day. But yeah, I just want to be in the lineup every day and have an opportunity to help the team win.”

The work at third base will intensify at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Lots of ground balls and throws from the corner. Constant tutelage from infield instructor Bobby Dickerson, who’s also going to host Beckham at his Mississippi home before spring training.

“I’m an athlete,” Beckhan said, downplaying the challenge. “I’m going to get down to Sarasota early, around Feb. 11 and we’re going to iron everything out and I think you guys have a lot to look forward to.”

Beckham just returned from workouts with vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson in California.

“It’s very important,” he said. “Anytime you can get work done in the offseason with someone in the organization and they can have hands on with you and a guy like Brady Anderson, all the accolades he’s had in his career and to be able to watch you and be hands on and help you make those adjustments is crucial.

“It was pretty intense. We did a lot of running this offseason. Obviously, a lot of hitting and a lot of lifting. I look like I bulked up a little bit, so he did pretty good.”

The Orioles aren’t planting Beckham in the middle of the order and expecting 50 home runs. He’s been told that he’s batting first in the lineup, probably with Machado second and Jonathan Schoop third.

“I would love to be the full leadoff guy for the Orioles and I think I bring enough energy and a lot of passion for the game,” he said. “I think that energy will rub off on a lot of players and a lot of teammates and I think we’ll have a big year.”

The Orioles will hope for something closer to the .394/.417/.646 slash line in August and not the .180/.255/.348 slash line in September.

“I’ve had some hot streaks but definitely that was one of the hottest streaks and who knows? I might have another hot one this year and it might be longer,” he said. “We want to ride it out, right?”

Asked whether it was weird for FanFest to be held without Machado and Schoop, Beckham didn’t dive into the controversy.

“It’s not weird, man, he said. “To each their own. They’re grown men and I’m a grown man and they’re going to make their decisions. They might have had something important to do and who knows? It doesn’t play any role with me.”

Meanwhile, Adam Jones says there have been no contract extension talks with the Orioles and referred all questions to executive vice president Dan Duquette. Kevin Gausman says his hearing date is Feb. 14 and he’s hoping to reach an agreement on a 2018 contract before going to arbitration.

More than 11,000 fans attended today’s event.

Lots more to come from the Baltimore Convention Center.

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