Former No. 1 overall Draft pick getting opportunity in Rays' second half
By Sam Blum
ST. PETERSBURG -- The bat flipped out of Tim Beckham's hands after his eighth-inning at-bat. The ball whizzed to the same sweet spot in right-center field that it had one inning before.
Beckham could smell three bases again, just as he had in the seventh. He sprinted out of the box and continued as his helmet flew off when he rounded first base. When he pulled into the third base, he lifted his head up and nodded, not so much as a grin crossing his face.
"I know what I can do," Beckham said. "I know what I bring to the table. Yeah it does [show my abilities]. It felt great."
Beckham is getting his first consistent chance this season to really show he can be the player the Rays thought they had when they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 Draft. In addition to his two triples Saturday, he cut down a runner at the plate with a strong throw to keep the Rays in the lead in the sixth inning.
In the second half of the season, Beckham was getting on base at .321 clip entering Sunday, and 10 of his 21 hits were for extra bases. He had a stretch where he had eight hits in eight at-bats. This all follows a first half where Beckham hit just .170, rarely played, and even had a stint in Triple-A. Now, with the Rays facing some short-term injuries in the infield, Beckham is getting mixed and matched on the field and has results to show for it.
"He was pretty electric [on Saturday]," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. His timing is coming around, it seems like."
Beckham's two-triple game was the first at Tropicana Field for a Rays player since Carl Crawford, who was the only other Tampa Bay player to accomplish the feat in 2008. The expectation for Beckham was always that this would be the norm, not the anomaly.
But it's always been the latter for Beckham, a career .224 hitter. Over the four years he's been up and down with the Rays, he has fewer than 400 at-bats. The second half of this season is the best stretch of baseball of his career, and he's hoping he can maintain this success.
Beckham showed he can be a special ballplayer with his ability to get to third twice in a tough triples ballpark.
"Something I bring to this club is my speed when I hit a ball in the gap," Beckham said. "If it hits the wall, I expect to be on third until they stop me."
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in Tampa. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.