PORT CHARLOTTE — It took INF Tim Beckham a long time to get to the big leagues, and, as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 draft, he took a lot of abuse along the way before making it in September.
But just when he could feel some satisfaction, his career took a cruel twist as he tore the ACL in his right knee during a December workout and is expected to miss at least half the season.
"Just a little bit more adversity I have to go through," Beckham said Friday. "Everybody's path to the big leagues isn't the same. It isn't as clean or as clear as you want it to be. As a man, you take whatever life throws at you and you roll with it."
Rather than preparing for an encore, Beckham spends almost his entire day in the trainers' room going through various rehab stations. "It's a bummer, man," he said. "But I've got great teammates helping me stay positive and helping me out."
Beckham, 24, was not likely to make the club's opening day roster, but a solid spring to follow up on the good impression he made in September would have positioned him well to be summoned from Triple A if/when there was an opening.
Instead, his goal now is just to get back on the field by late May, an optimistic timetable of six months after surgery, then resume playing in games and, before the end of the season, get back to the majors. "No doubt about it," he said.
ZO' BETTER: 2B Ben Zobrist said his sore and tight back was "feeling a lot better than (Thursday)" and he could start taking part in workouts as soon as Sunday. Manager Joe Maddon also said there was progress, but he didn't put a time frame on it. "All the signs are good, it's nothing serious, let's get it out of the way and get him moving forward," Maddon said.
MISSING MEN: RHPs Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval now have missed the first full week of camp because of visa issues in their native Dominican Republic, and INF Wilson Betemit missed his second day.
That would seem to be problematic, particularly with Oviedo, who is returning from elbow surgery and hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011 and is expected to play a key role in the bullpen.
Maddon said he's not concerned yet. "You'd like to get him here … before the games (start Feb. 28), just a couple days to get his feet on the ground," Maddon said. "I would bet that he's been throwing enough that he's not going to be far behind, if he's behind at all."
CEREMONIAL BUNTING: Friday's fundamental drill was bunt defense, and Maddon said the team is sticking to a basic plan of attack, with some emphasis since it plays an early season interleague series April 11-13 at Cincinnati. "The biggest thing I want them to understand is that simple is better," he said. "Keep everything as simple as possible but try to do simple better."
TICKET TALK: General single-game ticket sales will start March 1 via raysbaseball.com, and March 3 at the standard outlets, including the Trop box office. The team is currently selling three-, six- and nine-game flex packs, which allow fans to choose their games at discounted prices, and season-ticket packages. Rays Insiders (register at raysbaseball.com) then get first crack at single-game tickets, with a Feb. 28 presale.
MISCELLANY: Today's workout starts at 8:30 and will be abbreviated as players and staff head to Fan Fest at the Trop. … Maddon praised the professionalism of newcomer infielders Logan Forsythe and Jayson Nix in going through drills. … Maddon and front office execs will be briefed Sunday by MLB officials on the new instant replay rules.