Beltran happy about his new situation
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PHILADELPHIA -- In his black and orange shirt and gray baseball pants, Carlos Beltran sat at his locker Thursday afternoon, preparing for this new chapter in his baseball life.
Over his right shoulder, nearly within arm's length, rested a flat-screen television. If Beltran had turned his head slightly to the right, he could have watched the exciting conclusion of a matinee between the Mets and Reds.
He did so only when asked by Newsday if he was watching the game. "I saw some earlier," he said, then turned back toward his locker. He chatted with new Giants teammate Jeremy Affeldt, then headed for the batting cage, looking straight ahead.
Yes, it's safe to say he already has closed the book on his nearly seven years in Flushing.
After saying the decision to waive his no-trade clause to leave the Mets was "hard, in a sense," Beltran continued: "But the decision wasn't that difficult, because I knew I was coming to a team that was in first place. For the Mets to win [the NL East], it's uphill, because of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. I made it clear to the organization that I was willing to go to a team in contention.
"Once they approached me [Wednesday] about the San Francisco Giants, I said, 'Of course. I want to be part of that.' "
Beltran started in rightfield and hit third for the Giants, who beat the Phillies, 4-1. He went 0-for-4 in his Giants debut, striking out twice. He made a nice sliding catch on Jimmy Rollins' short fly ball in the fifth, getting his right knee brace caught in the grass, digging up a divot and doing a somersault of sorts to stabilize himself. Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted to being concerned when the play occurred, but Beltran stayed in the game and later said, "I'm fine."
The Giants, who have made "superb pitching, mediocre offense" their business model as they defend their World Series title, are so confident in their ability to draft and develop pitchers that they gave the Mets their top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, to rent Beltran for 58 games.
They think enough of the 34-year-old that they rearranged the furniture to make him comfortable. Nate Schierholtz, having played 85 games exclusively in right in 2011, moved to left. Bochy handed over uniform No. 15 to Beltran and upgraded to 16.
"I know as a player, you get used to a number. I was glad to give it up," Bochy said. "I think 15 has been on the bench long enough. It's good to see 15 out there and running around."
When a San Francisco reporter asked Beltran about living up to his last trade-deadline switch, his magical 2004 with Houston, he said, "I'm not thinking about '04. I already got paid for '04.'' That drew laughter. Added Beltran, "I'm thinking about 2011."
His seven-year, $119-million run with the Mets was a marriage filled with excitement, injury, acrimony and one memorable Adam Wainwright curve.
"I had a great time," he said. "I feel like the years that I was healthy, I did the best I could to help the team win. I had good years there. Unfortunately, when you're hurt, there is no chance you can help the team win . . . We had good teams from 2006 through 2008."
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, with whom Beltran repeatedly clashed, called him Thursday, Beltran said, to say "thanks for everything I did for them."
Wheeler served as Beltran's final gift to the Mets. And there will be no looking back, or even slightly to his right, for the relocated rightfielder.