Schott: Beltran’s Career Year Carrying Yankees

If the Yankees could give an MVP award for the first third of the season, Carlos Beltran might be the unanimous winner.

In his third year with the Yankees, Beltran has become one of their team leaders, as he in the lineup every day and has shown he will do everything to help them win.

Beltran’s biggest contribution this season was when he served as designated hitter when Alex Rodriguez was on the disabled list for three weeks in May. This was big, as Beltran has shown reluctance to be the DH, as he would much rather be in right field.

With Beltran at DH, it kept him fresh and allowed the Yankees to put Aaron Hicks into the lineup on a daily basis, and as a result, Hicks started to hit.

Beltran has put up big numbers so far this season, with 16 home runs and 41 RBI, and he has played in 58 of the Yankees’ 59 games. By comparison, last season, it took Beltran until September 19, the 119th game he played in, to hit his 16th homer. His performance has more than made up for the lack of offense from Rodriguez (7 HR, 18 RBI) and Mark Teixeira (3 HR, 12 RBI)

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said of Beltran before Wednesday night’s game, “There’s a constant communication between Carlos and I. He wants to play every day, and at times, you have to force him to take a day off. He wants to see what he’s having treated, maybe. He takes very good care of his body.

“I think he’s having an incredible year. I think he’s having an All-Star year Without him, I don’t know where we would be at. I think he’s a Hall of Famer, as I said before. The example that he leads on the field and off the field is truly amazing. He’s a treat to be around.”

Beltran said of how things have gone so far this season, “Well, you know what, I’m just happy that I’m doing my part. I think, you know, early in the year, things didn’t start for us the way we wanted it to. Right now, we feel like we’re playing better baseball. I’m just approaching every day with the mentality of just going out and trying to do the best I can to help the team win and try to put good at-bats.

“I feel lucky that I’m being able to do that for the most part of the season. We’re starting to get guys hot, like (Chase) Headley, who was struggling early in the season, now he’s swinging the bat better. It’s good to see, raising his average from .180 to .240 something right now. That really means that he’s putting great at-bats. I mean, it’s good to hear that he (Girardi) said that about me, but at the end of the day, this is a team effort. I’m doing my part and some of the guys are also doing their part.”

In the series with the Angels, Beltran hit a game-winning three-run homer and then a two-run home run in the first inning on Tuesday night, another game the Yankees went on to win, 6-3.

The home run on Tuesday night was the 1,000th extra base hit of Beltran’s career. He is the 38th player to reach the milestone and the fourth switch-hitter, joining Eddie Murray (1,099), Chipper Jones (1,055, and Pete Rose (1,041) in the exclusive club.

On Wednesday night, Beltran kept up his remarkable pace at the plate. He had a single in the third inning, a walk in the fourth, RBI double in the four-run sixth inning, and a two-run homer from the right side of the plate down the left field line to cap the four-run seventh that put the Yankees up 12-5. The Yankees went on to win 12-6.

The three-hit night gave him hits in 11 consecutive starts since May 27. He has also hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games going back to May 18.

Girardi said of how much he wants to Beltran in the lineup, “I’m going to play him as much as I can and, right now, you have him and Alex (Rodriguez) both swinging well, which is really helping our offense and it’s needed.”

Beltran said of performing like this at 39 years old, “I take a lot of pride in what I do. I come to the ballpark, I study the game, I go to the cage, work on my swing. I feel like I haven’t changed anything in the preparation since I learned to do that part of the game of baseball. Like I said, I come, do my lifting, do my workout, and I don’t feel like it hurts. I feel like I’m enjoying what I’m doing, and I will continue to feel like I’m not forcing myself to go out there and play.

“The preparation that I’m doing is no different than what I used to do ten years ago. When you guys heard about the knee injuries I had in the past, you know a lot of people would always put that in the line where ‘Carlos likes this and that.’ My knees, I haven’t iced my knees in five, six years. So, my knees don’t give me problems.

“There’s other stuff where maybe I don’t recuperate as well as I did ten years ago, but I try to do the best I can to take care of that. That’s something that you do with you know, supplements and things that the team provides you to make sure you sleep well at night, things like that.

“I come to the ballpark every day with joy and looking forward to doing something positive for the team,” Beltran said.

Through Wednesday night, Beltran had eight home runs, 22 RBI, 14 runs scored, and six doubles with a .328 average in 19 games.

Beltran is in the final year of a three-year contract with the Yankees, and he said of whether he will play next year, “I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I want to play, of course, I want to play again.

“I would love to play 20 years. You know, this is my 18th full year, so one year, two more years, who knows, depends on, right now, everything’s great, healthy, but who knows month to month from now. In the game of baseball, things can change so quickly.

“I’m staying positive, I just want to do everything I can to help this team make the playoffs and I believe that we have what it takes with the team that we have.”

Beltran said of his strong performance this year influencing his decision to come back after this season, “My goal is I want to play 20 years. I think it will be something, a good accomplishment for me personally, and at the same time, I want to give myself a chance to hopefully win a World Series. I mean, I’ve been playing the game of baseball a long time, went to the World Series once with the Cardinals and we lost. So, that’s something I would just love to experience before my last call.”


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