Archive: March 1st, 2011

Advice for Carlos Beltran

Now that Carlos Beltran is a right fielder — a position he’s never played in MLB before — I thought it would be helpful to post some pointers.

The truth is, playing right field is easy, you know. You can be awkward, you can be slow. Just ask Peter, Paul, and Mary.


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?