GM Sandy Alderson met with Carlos Beltran and Terry Collins on Saturday morning and they concluded Beltran would do a baseball-type running program for the next week to 10 days, after which they may conclude whether Beltran will play center field or right field. Beltran said he was open to the position switch as a way to prolong his career. He will continue to wear a knee brace, although it needs to be resized because Beltran said winter workouts have strengthened his quadriceps muscle.
Beltran will not be in Grapefruit League games at the beginning. The first game is next Saturday.
Here's a transcript of what Beltran had to say:
How did the meeting go and what was communicated?
"Well, I told them in order for me to decide if I'm going to play center field or right field, I would love to finish my running program, and then I will give them an answer -- and honest answer -- of where I stand. If I feel good physically and my knee is responding well, and I'm moving well out there, then I would love to play center field. But, at the same time, in my mind this is not my last year in the big leagues. I want to play for many more years. At the same time, I understand if my knee is causing me problems and it's best for me in the long term of my career to move to right field, in which I have to run less than center field, then I have to make that move also. But, at the same time, I told Terry, I told Sandy that I would give them a better answer once I finish my running program. I dedicated myself this offseason to strengthen my quad, my hamstring, everything around the knee. Personally, I'm positive because I was doing exercises I wasn't capable of doing last year or the year before -- squats and leg press, heavy. I did some running. I was doing an agility program in Puerto Rico pain-free. So I'm happy. I'm happy with that.
"I understand there's been a lot of things about center field, right field. Like I told Sandy, I told Terry: 'I will give you a better answer of where I think I should play based on how I feel, but at the same time understand this is not about Carlos. This is about the team.' And whatever is best for the team, at the end of the day, it's not my decision. That's where I stand."
What did the running program in Puerto Rico entail and how did you feel?
"I felt good. Basically I did more agility exercises than a running program. Here I would love to run the bases, move myself in the outfield. That was something that it wasn't a priority for me because what was a priority for me was strengthening my quad ... and everything was working properly. Everything came out well. Everything came out well in the offseason. Now it's time for me to move myself around, run the bases. Once I start doing that, like I said, I will have a better idea of where I am."
Is this as good as the knee is going to get because you've had the winter off from baseball wear and tear? Is this about protecting the knee long term? Or can the knee still improve?
"In my heart, I feel it's going to get better. But, at the same time, I'm looking forward also. I want to play four or five more years in the big leagues. If it's better for me to do that and move myself to another position, why not?
So you could become a corner outfielder for the rest of your career?
"If it doesn't get better, my knee, and if it continues to stay the same, probably yes. Hopefully one day I start to feel better after all the work I do, and I can get back to center field, I would love to, because that's where I feel comfortable."
You played with Mike Cameron. He said all the right things, but when the shift happened, it stung, because he still identified himself as a center fielder. With you would it be different because you would view it as necessary to prolong your career?
"Well, it's going to be an adjustment, because all I've done in my career is play center. It doesn't matter what people say about center field adjusts to one position better than others. It's not true. It's going to be an adjustment because of the view you have. I think when I played right field was when I signed in 1995. I played winter ball in Puerto Rico 15 years ago. So I don't know how that looks, you know?"
Center fields and shortstops have a certain swagger, though, and don't like to move, no?
"That's what people say. That's what people speculate. Angel Pagan has been a guy who has played all three positions. I don't believe he feels comfortable in all three. I feel he feels more comfortable in one than the other two. But that's not an issue right here. The issue right here is I need time. Like I told Sandy, I told Terry, I need time in order for me to give them the right answer of how I feel because, like I said, I'm looking forward to playing more years in the big leagues."
When you look back to last year, how did you feel you did in center field?
"Well, at the beginning, not good, because I felt like the game was so far ahead of me. I didn't train, because I couldn't do it. This year I feel better because I put a lot of work in. I hit. I played catch. I did everything that I couldn't do last year. So I feel this year is going to be much better. At the end of the year I was feeling comfortable, but the season was almost over."
Will you wear the brace?
"I have to wear the brace, but what happened is the brace I was wearing last year, I have to readjust it because my quad got bigger and it doesn't fit properly."
Is the new brace lighter?
"No. The same."
But you said the brace wasn't the factor limiting your mobility?
"No. For me the problem was I didn't spend a lot of time doing what I do -- being in the outfield, hitting in the cages. Physically right now I feel great. Hitting-wise, I feel good. I don't feel like I'm compensating at all. All the training that I did, I did it without the brace because I wanted to make sure my quad was responding well. And it responded well. When I play, I probably will have to wear it, but that's not going to be an issue for me."
Can you reflect on this already being Year 7 of a seven-year deal with the Mets?
"It's been great, man. It's been great. It's been a lot of ups and downs. It's been a learning experience for me dealing with you [media] guys. But it's been great. It's been the experience of a lifetime. I told my wife about a month ago, 'I can't believe it's been seven years.' And she's like, 'Man, time really has flied.' That's the way I feel. But, at the same time, it's been a great experience of my life. I really enjoy being here. I really enjoy being here with the players I've had the opportunity to play with as a New York Met. And I'm looking forward to go this year and do well. A lot of people don't expect us to do anything basically. They feel that we're out of it. And that's great they're thinking that way. We're going to take it as a motivation to take the field every day with a lot of intensity, a lot of fire, and try to mak something happen positive for the city."
What's your prediction -- center field or right field?
"I don't know. I will give a better answer once I finish my running progression. I told Terry, and I also told Sandy, 'I will be honest because I won't cheat myself.' I don't like to look bad. There's not a player that I've met that wants to take the field and look terrible. I don't want to embarrass myself. I want to make sure that when I'm out there, and I'm willing to take the field, I'm good to go. ... I don't plan to be this year my last year in the big leagues. I want to play for many more years. If it is best for Carlos, for the team, to move to right, [I'm] all for that. But in order for me to make that decision, I have to give myself a chance."