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Tampa Bay Rays: Baserunning Blunder Costly for Beckham

By Althea Pashman
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Former first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays demoted to minors for lackadaisical play numerous times during their recent road trip.

It’s not every day that a base running blunder costs a player a spot on a roster, but Tampa Bay Rays infielder Tim Beckham lost his when he committed a cardinal sin by not hustling on the base path.

It wasn’t Beckham’s first blunder, it was in fact the third incident all coming within the Tampa Bay Rays recent six-game road trip.

The latest blunder came during the Tampa Bay Rays game on Wednesday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox.

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Beckham failed to cross home plate before Kevin Kiermaier was tagged out at second base when he attempted to stretch a single into a double. The home plate umpire ruled no run on the play.

Over the past couple of weeks, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash addressed just this same situation of lackadaisical play.

Not just with Beckham, but the entire team for their continued baserunning and mental mistakes and admitted that a lot of the problems falls on him [Cash].

As for Beckham, this was his third strike.

On Saturday against the Houston Astros, he got caught between bases on an infield single. His other blunder came the very next day when he failed to hustle home – however, he was lucky as the run counted.

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While the play doesn’t necessarily rest entirely on Beckham’s shoulder, Kiermaier also played a part and was at fault as well for attempting to stretch a single into a double with two outs.

However, Cash put the greater onus on Beckham’s mistake when asked which was worse.

"“Definitely the not hustling. That is required of us, and that’s probably the easiest part to do in baseball.”"

Cash though did not remove Beckham from Wednesday’s game or any of the others after his mistakes and in his post-game media conference said he didn’t do so for other reasons.

He elaborated by saying that he was committed to giving Matt Duffy the day off to rest his Achilles and didn’t want to force him into action.

However, there were other options available as Nick Franklin who started in right could have shifted to shortstop, with Steven Souza Jr. (didn’t start, entered the game in the 8th) replacing him in right.

After the game, Beckham declined to speak with the media about his demotion but Kiermaier did and put most of the blame on himself.

"“It wasn’t a good play on my part. I saw Mookie [Betts] had a long run and I picked the wrong time to be aggressive. If I didn’t do that, we would have had [Evan Longoria] up. It just wasn’t a good baseball play by me,” Kiermaier said. “It was a really good throw, but I shouldn’t have gone in the first place. I’ll learn from it, but I am really disappointed in my decision right there. I should know better, especially with our best player behind me."

Earlier this season, Cash immediately removed outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from a game for the same reason.

Against the Los Angeles Angels, Souza Jr. exited the game when he failed to run hard to first base after hitting a routine fly ball that dropped between two outfielders and rolled away.

Souza Jr. saw the play and kicked it into high gear managing to make it all the way to third base standing up.

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Prior to his demotion, Beckham had a 10-game hitting streak in which he was batting .429 (15-for-35) with 2-2B and 2-3B.

Overall on the season Beckham was hitting .247 with 5-HR and 16-RBI in 64 games for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Beckham was the first overall selection of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and to this day is considered the worst draft selection in the history of the franchise.

The Tampa Bay Rays had the opportunity to draft Buster Posey, but instead went with Beckham who was described as a potential five-tool player at the major league level.

The minor league report on Beckham also stated that he’s athletically gifted and has a good sense of what to do on the base paths.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Will Finish the Season with Six-Man Rotation

It makes you question what went wrong since then and with this latest gaffe, it could very well have been the last time we’ll be seeing Beckham wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform.

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