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Beckham primed for more time at short

With Duffy slow to recover from heel surgery, Rays will balance needs
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- With the shortstop position in question for the start of the season, Rays manager Kevin Cash will need to play the balancing game.

Matt Duffy is penciled in as the everyday shortstop, but he has been slow to recover from his offseason heel surgery. Given Duffy's uncertain status, Tim Beckham will likely be the beneficiary of Cash's balancing act.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- With the shortstop position in question for the start of the season, Rays manager Kevin Cash will need to play the balancing game.

Matt Duffy is penciled in as the everyday shortstop, but he has been slow to recover from his offseason heel surgery. Given Duffy's uncertain status, Tim Beckham will likely be the beneficiary of Cash's balancing act.

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Complicating matters further is the fact the Rays want Beckham to learn to play outfield, so he can offer more flexibility to the roster. Playing shortstop takes away potential innings in the outfield for Beckham.

"It's a little bit of a tricky balance between where Beck's at and how much short we want Beck playing at the end of camp and still learning a position like the outfield," Cash said.

Video: PHI@TB: Cash discusses playing Beckham in outfield

Duffy is participating in a lot of activities, but he's still working up to going full speed and being able to recover. Cash noted that before he pencils Duffy's name into the lineup, he needs to show an ability to be able to rebound from one game to the next.

"To make sure that he's capable of going out there, three, four days in a row," Cash said.

Brad Miller is another shortstop option, but he's been playing second base primarily this spring.

Video: TB@MIN: Miller makes pair of plays at second base

"Brad's played some short this spring," Cash said. "We know we have that option. He's done such a good job at second base. In fairness to Brad, I mean I know he likes to play short, but we've challenged him pretty good here over the last year, and also this spring, and the way he has handled second base it's been pretty remarkable. We're going to try and keep him there as much as possible. Saying that, we know in a pinch, he can go over there and play short."

Meanwhile, Beckham has certainly swung the bat well all spring.

"He's had a good spring," Cash said. "I always think that most guys would respond better to consistent at-bats than not. But it kind of depends on the shape of our roster and the team, and the health of certain guys. I know Beck feels like he would benefit from consistent at-bats, and that's a tough point to argue. I agree with him."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Beckham, Matt Duffy