Carlos Beltran Moves to Right Field

In case you missed it, Carlos Beltran announced that he would move to RF permanently, and allow Angel Pagan to spend the rest of spring training getting ready to play centerfield.

A classy move by Beltran, who did not look great in center after coming off the DL last year, and is clearly still affected by his knee problems. Maybe Beltran can still play a great centerfield on occasion, but it’s doubtful he’d be able to do it consistently and remain healthy through 140-160 games.

Beltran’s announcement also lets Terry Collins off the hook. Collins had put the ball in Beltran’s court, and that decision could have turned ugly if Beltran chose to stay in center and play the position at a level similar to what we saw in August and September of 2010. Imagine if Beltran insisted that he could and would continue to play centerfield, and resembled Willie Mays circa 1973? It would have been a delicate and potentially distracting situation for Collins to deal with.

On the one hand, it is absolutely wonderful that Beltran quashed this minor controversy early on in camp; it’s one less potentially negative issue for the Mets to deal with. On the other hand, it speaks volumes about Beltran’s health — or lack thereof. Beltran is a fiercely prideful player and a world-class athlete; to give up his position in February suggests that he knows he cannot play the field the way he wants to today, and is not confident he’ll be able to get back to where he used to be in the future. My guess is that he is dealing with significant pain, and/or feels limited in his ability to chase down fly balls. Speaking from experience, it is an emotionally crushing moment when an athlete realizes that he/she can no longer execute a particular skill due to physical limitation, and denial is often the first response. The fact that Beltran came to acceptance at this fairly early point suggests to me that he is either incredibly level-headed and self-aware, or is in much more pain / discomfort than we realize.

What do you think? Did Carlos make the right decision? Or would you have preferred he continued to test out the knee and see how things worked out, and made his choice later in the spring?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 March 1, 2011 at 9:42 am
    First, an absolutely unprecedented “pat on the back” to the Mets for not turning this into an embarrassment for not only themselves – but for multiple starting players in their current outfield.

    (Nice job in at least getting this settled early on in camp….with all parties on board with the outcome.)

    As for the actual transition, I think that this is going to be tough – no matter how it’s sliced.

    Can Carlos Beltran play RF? Of course he can.

    Can this current version of Carlos Beltran play RF for any prolonged period of time – and successfully hold up over the course of 120-140 games?

    Therein lies the problem.

    I’m of the personal belief that if Beltran was in such “tremendous” shape (as has been alluded to, anytime he picked up a bat during his rehab/now in ST—- completely different than playing the field for a prolonged period), then he’d at least have put up a bit more resistance to moving to RF.

    It does make me raise my ‘brow a bit, that the “transition” is taking place without much more than a blip on the Met radar screen.

    However, it’s still very early in camp — and it’s not like he needs much more in the way of “conditioning” [at least to get himself into a batter’s box].

    He’s done that all along, and from here on out – it will be about recovery/minimization of pain after he does start playing.

    The wild card with Beltran moving to RF is that every once in a while he’ll make a throw from CF where you’re left to wonder what he was thinking.

    Understandable, in that we know he likes to showcase his arm, but that situation presents itself a little bit differently from RF (situations, etc.) I’ll be curious to see where he picks “his” spots from a corner position; especially in the quirky confines at Citi.

    Above all else, no matter what position he’s playing — I just hope for as much of “healthy” Carlos Beltran as we can possibly expect this year. The cautious side of me thinks that it won’t be anywhere near as much as we’d like…..and I really hope to be wrong.

  2. Izzy March 1, 2011 at 9:56 am
    I beleive the comments about the pain he is in are correct and proven by his agreement to play right field and the fact that he is being babied in spring training. Not being seen on the field is an indication of pain. If an entire Winter couldn’t get him ready and healthy and few days at the complex isn’t doing it either.
  3. Professor Longnose March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm
    It could be that he feels OK but is worried about the wear and tear that playing CF would put on his knee.

    He could still get a nice contract in the offseason as a right fielder or DH if he plays healthy the whole year, but if he is out for a significant amount of time it will be much harder.

  4. gary s. March 2, 2011 at 1:02 am
    find somebody to pick up half of his contract and trade him..the next press conference about beltran will be to announce his retirement.
  5. Neil March 2, 2011 at 9:12 am
    Didn’t Pagan list Beltran as his favorite player growing up? Both are from Puerto Rico. Pagan played CF pretty well last year.

    Maybe part of this is a “passing the torch” issue. Not all certainly, but perhaps the tipping point of Beltran’s decision.

    Now that he’s made this decision, maybe accepting the mid season trade to a DH position on a contender will be that much easier.