ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- More than three hours before his team took the latest step in a heated wild card race, infielder Tim Beckham was greeted at his stall in the Tampa Bay Rays' clubhouse with an overdue welcome. His path through the minors had led him from Princeton to Hudson Valley, Bowling Green to Charlotte, Montgomery to Durham, each step offering lessons in a six-year chase.
Beckham, the Rays' first-round pick in 2008, looked to his side as Evan Longoria approached him. The greeting between the two was short, but the look on the veteran's face was one of sincere pleasure, an awareness of what this moment meant to the young player and the patience required to live a major league debut.
Longoria extended his hand, and Beckham did the same. They hugged. Beckham's wait, after an extended journey, was over.
"Congrats, man," Longoria said.
Beckham never doubted this time would come, but he can be excused for wanting it to happen quicker. He was taken first overall -- four spo...