Orioles' Tim Beckham making move from shortstop to third base
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) —
When the Baltimore Orioles acquired Tim Beckham from the Tampa Bay Rays last July 31, they hoped that he would be the successor to J.J. Hardy at shortstop.
Beckham had an impressive August for the team, hitting .394 with 50 hits in 29 games. His September wasn't as good when he hit .180.
After the Orioles decided not to trade Manny Machado, they made a decision that impacted Beckham. They'll move Machado, who could become a free agent after this season from third base to shortstop while putting Beckham at third base.
The 28-year-old Beckham, who was the overall first draft pick in 2008, has started just five games at third base in his four-year major league career.
Beckham is in the early days of his transition, but after Machado arrived on Saturday, infield coach Bobby Dickerson hit several dozen balls to third. Beckham booted just one of them.
"I've just been doing drills right now and working on our footwork over at third," Beckham said. "Whatever's going to surprise me I think is going to happen in a game and being able to make those in-game plays and in-game adjustments and just taking those in-game angles to the ground balls — hard ground balls and the slow ground balls."
Manager Buck Showalter believes that Beckham will easily make the transition, though it could be tricky.
"I don't really consider it a shuffle," Showalter said. "Manny's a shortstop that's been playing third base. He played a lot more shortstop than he has third so I look at it more Tim making an adjustment to a new infield position. There's a lot of things about infield that's infield, but third base is different."
Overall, Beckham had by far his best season in the major leagues last year, hitting a combined .262 with the Tampa Bay and Baltimore. He hit 22 homers with 62 RBIs.
Showalter is confident Beckham will produce offensively because he's seen it already.
"I never dreamed he would have the month he would have," Showalter said. "He was unbelievable the first month."
Now, Beckham will have to produce offensively and defensively. He had heard talk about a possible move to third in December when reports came out at the winter meetings about the Orioles listening on Machado. He didn't find out officially until late last month.
"I was training at shortstop, but I wouldn't have done anything different, to be honest," Beckham said. "I probably would have taken ground balls at third, for sure, but as far as training goes, as far as running and lifting and doing all the agility drills that correlates to third base, as well."
Machado has liked what he's seen from Beckham as well.
"He's going to go out there and do his job," Machado said. "He's going to go out there and catch the ball. That's all we can do as defenders. That's what we talk about around here as an organization is catch the ball first and you make the out later. If you don't catch it, you're not going to be able to make the out. I think I'm confident he's an athlete. He can play any position in the field."