LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Gordon Beckham said he would come to spring training aiming to win the third-base job, and he’s apparently going to get a chance at least to compete for it.
The former White Sox veteran took extra ground balls at third base before early arriving Braves position players took infield Monday, then was at third along with prospect Rio Ruiz when the infield drill began.
Adonis Garcia and Kelly Johnson, considered the frontrunners for third-base duties, weren’t among early arrivers in camp as of Monday. Braves position players are due to report Wednesday and the first full-squad workout is Thursday.
Beckham signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract after a career-worst season. He hit .209 with six homers, a .275 on-base percentage and a .332 slugging percentage in 237 plate appearances for the White Sox, the second year in a row the right-handed hitter posted his worst statistics.
He continued to grade well defensively at second and third bases, working mostly at third last season after playing 105 games at second in 2014. He provides the Braves with at least a platoon option at second base or depth at a few infield positions, but Beckham said last month at FanFest that he would aim for a bigger role.
“To be playing third base every day,” he said. “I think that’s what they told me that I had the opportunity to do, so we’ll go into spring and see what happens. If that doesn’t work out, then I’ll probably just be going all over the place and playing all the infield positions, which I can do. But my goal is to be playing third base every day.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked Monday if it was a legitimate possibility Beckham could be the third-base job.
“Everything is a possibility,” Gonzalez said. “This is what’s great about our camp — not only the pitching staff, there’s some positions that are open. And I like that attitude of Beckham. And I’ll use my statement to Swanson a few days ago – don’t come in here thinking I’ll settle for A-ball or Double-A, come in here with an attitude like, I’m going to make an impression here, I’m going to get a chance to go to Atlanta with you guys.
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