After weeks of speculation about whether he would cede shortstop to Manny Machado, Tim Beckham found out Friday — the night before FanFest — from Orioles manager Buck Showalter that he'd be swapping spots and moving to third base.
It's a move Beckham said he's excited for, and hopes doesn't become a problem for either himself or the team as the transition takes place.
"I'm open to it, especially if it helps the team and it's a better fit for the team," said Beckham, who turned 28 on Saturday. "The end goal is to win ballgames and you don't want to lose sight of that, and I don't want to make this a big deal. I'm just going to transition over there and continue to make the plays and be consistent."
While it's a relatively new position for Beckham — he's made five starts and a total of nine appearances at third base in his career, all with the Tampa Bay Rays — he expects it to be relatively simple.
"It's baseball and you have to catch the ball and throw the ball,” he said. “So I want to keep it simple and just embrace it. I'm looking forward to it, so let's go."
The most important thing for Beckham is that he'll have a position to call his own and not move around the diamond. He shifted often between second base and shortstop during his time with the Rays, and upon his trade to the Orioles, declared himself a shortstop and nothing else.
He was at the team's holiday party when reports emerged that Machado wanted to play shortstop, and both at the time and since, Showalter has said that he needed to talk with the involved parties before a decision became public.
In the interim, the idea that Beckham could fill a super-utility role and play regularly but without a set position was considered. But Beckham said being told where he'd play with little alteration would be a benefit.
"For me, it's definitely important," Beckham said. "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."
In addition to learning he'd play third, Beckham said he'd talked to Showalter at the team dinner Friday evening about being the everyday leadoff hitter. Beckham ascended to that role quickly once he joined the Orioles at the nonwaiver deadline, and despite a low walks total, he hit well enough to overcome that to spark an offensive surge that month.
"He did say that and I would love to be the full[-time] leadoff guy for the Orioles," Beckham said. "I think I bring I bring enough energy and a lot of passion for the game. I think the energy will rub off on a lot of players and a lot of teammates, so I think we'll have a big year."
Around the horn
While he didn't have an innings count in mind for his first fully healthy season as a professional after three years of dealing with injuries, pitching prospect Hunter Harvey said his top goal was to pitch in the majors at some point in 2018.