Thursday, July 21, 2011
Updated: July 22, 9:54 AM ET
Carlos Beltran facing end of Mets stint?
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Was Thursday afternoon Carlos Beltran's last home game as a New York Met?
So when he stepped up to the plate for what could've been his final home at-bat in the ninth inning, some of the 37,416 fans in attendance stood up and gave him an ovation, since the Mets are about to embark on a 10-game road trip.
"The cheering was great," Beltran said. "Like I said, let's hope I can come back."
Beltran has maintained his desire to remain in New York. But the 34-year-old is slated to become a free agent at the end of the season, and if he were to leave the Mets, they would receive no draft picks to compensate their loss.
The Mets, sources told ESPN NewYork.com, are willing to pick up the remaining $6 million on Beltran's contract in order to land a better prospect for Beltran's services. But Beltran has a full no-trade clause in his contract, so he has the right to veto any deal.
According to sources, the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox have all expressed interest in acquiring the switch-hitting outfielder, who was named to the National League All-Star team after putting together a remarkable first half. But Beltran says he hasn't received any calls from his agent, Scott Boras, about the possibility of being traded, so he isn't going to worry about it.
"Right now, I'm not even thinking about it," Beltran said. "All that we have here are rumors. I haven't talked to my agent, my agent hasn't called me and said anything about a trade. I'm just focusing on what's important, and that's playing baseball."
Manager Terry Collins hasn't allowed himself to get caught up in all the speculation surrounding Beltran.
"I deal in reality. I know it's news. I know it's talked about. I know it may happen, but I deal with what's fact, and the fact is he's getting ready to pack and go on this trip," Collins said. "I heard about (Thursday) morning about 'Come to see Carlos in his last game at Citi Field.' Well, that may be true, it may not be true. But I think Carlos deserved whatever response the fans gave him, because this guy's given seven years of his career here, and given them a lot of great moments to watch. But right now he's hitting third in Miami (on Friday), that's what I'm planning on."
Left fielder Jason Bay said he hadn't thought about the possibility that Beltran may not return to New York with the team after the road trip until he heard the fans' ovation.
"That ovation Carlos (got) kind of brought (the idea that he may be traded) a little more to fruition," Bay said. "I don't think anybody thought about it until that point, that this might be his last at-bat (at home), but once again that's all out of our control. But I think everyone's aware of it. You can only say it so many ways, there's nothing you can do about it."
Although Beltran has expressed a desire to remain in New York, he has indicated a willingness to relocate to a contending team. He used a midseason trade from the Kansas City Royals to the Houston Astros in 2004 as a springboard for slugging eight homers in 12 postseason games and setting up the seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets that is set to expire at season's end.
"I'm not thinking about (trades), man," Beltran reiterated. "I was coming here early (Thursday morning) to get ready and try to sweep the Cardinals. And later we're going to Miami and I'm focused on playing games."
If it was indeed his last game in New York, Beltran said he wanted the fans to remember him, "just the way they want to remember me."
"Like I said, during the time I've been here, I've given everything I have for this team, so I feel proud for everything that I've done and I have no regrets," Beltran said.
Beltran has enjoyed a resurgence this season. He leads the team in home runs (15) and RBIs (61), while batting .290 with a .387 on-base percentage and a major league-best 30 doubles.
"I think Carlos Beltran came into spring training determined to be healthy and show everybody the kind of player that he's always been," Collins said before Thursday afternoon's game. "That was his main focus when he came into (spring training) and he's proved that he's still a great player. I think it was all his approach, his determination and the way he went about things to play well."
Collins praised Beltran's strong presence in the clubhouse.
"Once I got to know him, I had a little more appreciation for not only what a great individual he is, but his leadership skills," Collins said. "He doesn't say much. He's kind of a quiet guy. He's got a great sense of humor, but when he speaks, he gets people's attention. He doesn't say much, he says it briefly, but people listen to him, and that's a tribute to his experience and what he brings to the table."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPN NewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin was used in this report.