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Beckham thriving as Duffy nears return

MLB.com @wwchastain

TORONTO -- Tim Beckham is playing everyday as the Rays' shortstop, and he hasn't been just holding the post while Matt Duffy rehabs his surgically repaired heel. Beckham has thrived.

The No. 1 pick of the 2008 MLB Draft is actually playing the best he's ever played at the Major League level, prompting a question about whether his confidence has been the difference.

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TORONTO -- Tim Beckham is playing everyday as the Rays' shortstop, and he hasn't been just holding the post while Matt Duffy rehabs his surgically repaired heel. Beckham has thrived.

The No. 1 pick of the 2008 MLB Draft is actually playing the best he's ever played at the Major League level, prompting a question about whether his confidence has been the difference.

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"As a man, you can't lose confidence in yourself," Beckham said. "And I feel like just getting the opportunity to play every day, I know what I can do once I get in there every day. I'm happy to keep playing good ball."

Beckham hit two home runs against the Orioles on Wednesday night, and, according to Statcast™, he hit four balls that had an exit speed of 100 mph or more. The game appears to have slowed down for Beckham.

"Just knowing you're going to be in there every day kind of takes the weight off your back a little bit," Beckham said. "You can ask any player, it's not easy playing every day ... [but] it's definitely a good feeling to play every day to get in the groove and see pitches every day. Not coming in and hitting off closers every fifth day. So it's a more comfortable feeling."

Looming on the horizon is Duffy's return. He's been on the road trip, primarily so he can work with infield coach Tom Foley. And he continues to make strides. Friday afternoon he ran "arcs" for the first time, which means he ran around the outside edge of the infield.

Video: Matt Duffy on recovering from left heel surgery

"Feeling pretty good," Duffy said. "I still feel it, but it's to the point right now where I don't, it's not a sharp pain. It's not lingering in between. I can run and walk back and I feel fine. It's not like I run and it hurts to walk back. So it's getting pretty close."

There is a possibility Duffy could start a rehab assignment once the Rays return from their current road trip.

"That's the hope," Duffy said. "Not putting an exact date on it. Once we get to that point, where I can run bases for a couple of day, I'll be fine."

For his part, Beckham said he's not thinking about anything other than playing that day's game. Duffy said he's just thinking about getting better. And Rays manager Kevin Cash said he's just thinking about Beckham helping the Rays win games right now.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Beckham, Matt Duffy