By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 21- Carlos Beltran was all smiles in the Bronx when he put on the Yankees pinstripes for the first time. The last time he wore a New York uniform, cross-town as a Met, it wasn’t smiles after taking an Adam Wainwright curveball at Shea Stadium in October of 2006 that ended the Mets season in the NLCS to the Cardinals.
The Mets may have never recovered from that pitch and that final at bat from Beltran. And Beltran never recovered as a Met, their fans still have not forgiven him for leaving them one game shy of advancing to the World Series. There would be more tumultuous moments with Mets management before being traded to the Giants for rookie pitcher Zach Wheeler.
There was Beltran at Yankee Stadium. He was not shy about talking of those years with the Mets. He felt the seven-year, $119 million contract resulted in good times, but the end became a disrespectful memory. In essence, the Yankees then were his first choice as a free agent after a memorable 2005 post season with the Houston Astros.
Beltran was always a Yankee fan. The Yankees at the time felt he was not their perfect fit. He is now, but is he? Beltran downplayed questions about two suspect knees, and there are questions of whether he will be inserted more as the DH in the lineup of manager Joe Girardi, or a part time position player in a crowded outfield.
Girardi is happy with his new addition that goes along with the signees the past two weeks of catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. And, Beltran now gets to play in the Bronx where there is a predominant Latino community. Girardi and the hierarchy of the Yankees were not holding back.
Carlos Beltran will also play a major role in the community. He is also a family oriented individual, something that Girardi also referred to as a constant in the Yankees clubhouse.
And there should be no issues about Beltran not fitting in with the New York fan base or getting along with the media. He did that well during his tenure with the Mets.
“Carlos understands how New York works,” said Girardi. “It helps a lot.”
It also helps that the Yankees are making roster additions in the off-season. Girardi is not adjusting the lineup in mid-season, or as was the case this past year welcoming one new player after another because of the constant injuries that plagued the team.
“What we’ve added to our lineup is as much since I’ve been here,” said Girardi with his confident smile. The feeling is, the Yankees hierarchy is not done and pitching now will be a priority before spring training commences in about seven weeks.
“I can deal with 0-for-fours and three strikeouts,” said Beltran after his introductory press conference. “And talking to you guys I can deal with that. When someone is trying to hurt you in a personal way, trying to put things out there that are not me, we have trouble.”
Beltran was not referring to the disgruntled Mets fans, who felt in the end that he was not the perfect fit. It was an attack at Mets management for berating his ability and possibly not living up to expectations. In six seasons with the Mets he hit 149 home runs and drove in 559 runs.
“You cannot believe the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down,” he said. “In that aspect, I felt hurt. “I’m a player but they don’t only hurt me, they hurt my family, they hurt people around me. It wasn’t right put it that way.”
And if that is indeed true, Beltran had every right to express his feelings and the Mets brass could not be reached for comment, but they by now have heard the comments and will be asked sooner or later. The Yankees stressed that family issue with Beltran on board, and his wife and two children were very visible on his debut in the Bronx.
The Yankees scored a trifecta the past three weeks. It was Beltran on Friday, Ellsbury and McCann the prior two weeks. Beltran is the latest addition and he said, “When you don’t win, everything is a failure.”
The Yankees believe they have another piece to the puzzle that will get them back to the post season. The question is, will Beltran, who almost became a Yankee in 2005, help return them to the post season?
Right now he appears to be a perfect fit.
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