When Tampa Bay drafted Tim Beckham No. 1 overall out of Griffin High School in Georgia way back in 2008, a lot was expected of the 18-year-old. When you go 1/1, you’re supposed to reach the big leagues, be a franchise player, an All Star and possibly, someday even warrant Hall of Fame consideration.
Fast forward 14 years. Beckman has played in 476 big league games with the Rays, Orioles, Mariners and now, the Twins. The 32-year-old journeyman has posted a slash-line of .248/301/.429 with 63 homers in 1760 plate appearances (as of August 4). He’s endured minor league demotions, major injuries and faced two long suspensions. Definitely not what was expected, but yet, he’s still here. Still grinding. Still playing.
After signing a minor league contract with the Twins in February, Beckham suffered a quadriceps injury and missed the first two months of the season. He joined the St. Paul Saints line-up in June and did a Ted Williams impersonation, hitting .406 with a .480 on-base-percentage in 35 games.
The Twins, of course, had to notice and promoted Beckham on July 30. He was in the line-up the next day; his first big league action in three years. I caught up with the veteran infielder in the Twins’ hectic, trade-deadline-day clubhouse earlier this week.
DZ: You’re back in the big leagues. Has to feel good. Could you just talk about that a little bit?
BECKHAM: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s been a grind to get back. A couple knee surgeries, a torn quad in spring training. So just been locked in, man, locked in the past couple of years rehabbing and I came back with Chicago last year and had a short stint in Triple A, put up some good numbers, meniscus went out. It’s been tough, man, it’s been some tough loads, but it makes the comeback even sweeter.
DZ: Cool. When you have a lot of time in the majors like you have, is it harder going back to the minors to play?
BECKHAM: It’s challenging. I wouldn’t say harder…. It’s challenging though. I take pride in the preparation. Obviously up here it’s easier to prep, easier to take care of your body. But you embrace it, you embrace the grind, it’s what you have to do in order to get back and in order to stay locked in. So, it’s a blessing, man. It’s a blessing to be here today and embrace it for sure.
DZ: You and (manager) Rocco (Baldelli) were in Tampa at the same time. Is that part of the reason you ended up here in the Twins organization?
BECKHAM: That played a big factor in me not taking the opt-outs in my contract and just my relationship here with the guys, with (Byron) Buxton, with Nicki G (Gordon), with a lot of the guys here. (Chris) Archer. I’ve got some guys here that we’ve been good friends in the past. Like I said, we’re in first place here, playing competitive baseball and playing winning baseball. Where I’m at in my career you want to be on a winning team, you want to be able to help the team win and try and make the playoffs…I’m blessed to be here, man. I’m happy to be here. Like I said, I’m grateful.
DZ: So, way back in the day, you were drafted (number one) overall. When you look back at that time what stands out to you?
BECKHAM: ….Oh yeah, it was definitely exciting going 1/1. I was just anxious to get with Tampa and play some ball, man.
(At this point Beckham was informed it was time for the pre-game stretch)
DZ: One last thing. So, in your career you’ve had a lot of setbacks, a lot of challenges, what’s kept you going?
BECKHAM: Just competitive edge in us, man. That’s why we’re all here. We’re athletes that love to compete. Like I said, we embrace that competitive edge and that’s what makes the game fun. Coming out to compete every night.