ST. PETERSBURG — Since taking Tim Beckham with the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, ahead of Buster Posey and others, the Rays have been patient and encouraging that the affable shortstop would eventually make it to the majors and have an impact when he got there.
But Tuesday, the Rays made clear their disappointment and frustration when Beckham was suspended 50 games for a second violation of the minor-league drug policy for using marijuana, classified as a "drug of abuse."
"We are very disappointed by Tim's actions," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said in a statement. "Tim possesses great potential, and he must rededicate himself in order to become the person and player we know he can be."
Beckham, 22 and playing at Triple-A Durham, apologized for his actions in a statement released through the team:
"I regret that my poor judgment resulted in me letting my teammates and the Tampa Bay Rays organization down. I take full responsibility for my actions, and I will use this experience to refocus my commitment to baseball. I recognize that I am blessed to be able to play baseball for a living. I owe it to my teammates, my family and to myself to respect the game and the responsibilities that go with playing it as a professional. I am sorry."
Beckham, who received a $6.15 million bonus for signing, seemed to take a big step last year, hitting .275 with seven homers, 57 RBIs and a .734 on-base plus slugging percentage in 107 games at Double-A Montgomery and earning an August promotion to Durham, where he hit .255/5/13/.744 in 24 games.
He was off to a slow start this season, hitting .204 with a .568 OPS, and had been on the disabled list with a left wrist sprain.
In Durham, Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said: "I was surprised. But if he did it, he needs to pay the consequences. He's a young kid, I'm sure he's going to learn from it. I don't have much patience for illegal stuff, but as far as I know he's a great kid, he's a young kid, and hopefully he learned his lesson from whatever it was that he was doing."