When the Atlanta Braves signed Gordon Beckham the thought was that he'd likely be a utility player all over their infield. While that still remains a possibility, that is not the way he will be approaching things when he reports to spring training. Beckham told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution during Saturday's FanFest activities at Turner Field that he wants to be the Braves' everyday third baseman.
"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."
To call the Braves' third base position unsettled would perhaps be an understatement at this point. They ended last season with Hector Olivera at third but have since shown every intention of shifting him to left field for the 2016 season. That leaves Beckham, Adonis Garcia and Kelly Johnson as the other options at third.
Garcia earned another opportunity after bashing 10 home runs in 58 games with the Braves last season. He continued that torrid pace during Winter League and comes to camp likely penciled in at third at least in a platoon situation with Johnson. Garcia is a question mark at third defensively as he registered 10 errors in just 42 games last season.
Johnson brings a veteran option to third but like Beckham, could play in a number of different spots for Atlanta in 2016. He hit .275 with nine homers in 62 games with the Braves last season before being traded to the New York Mets prior to the deadline.
Beckham struggled offensively last season slashing .209/.275./.332 in 100 games with the White Sox. He has proven to be capable with the glove but he will have to bounce back offensively if he hopes to be in the lineup regularly at any position for Atlanta.
It is, however, the right attitude for a guy like Beckham to have. He is a veteran and joining a young club that is in the midst of a rebuild. In his exchange with the AJC, he sounded happy to be back at home and excited for a new challenge. He may be a long shot to win the third base job outright, but that will be one of the position battles to keep an eye on throughout spring training.