PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In his first appearance as a Mets opponent since his Flushing run concluded last July, Carlos Beltran received a polite ovation. Nothing approaching the passion, both positive and negative, that he generated from 2005 through the middle of last season.
When World Series MVP David Freese came up in the first inning to thunderous applause after Beltran's flyout, the mystery was solved: An abundance of Cardinals fans occupied Digital Domain Park Tuesday afternoon.
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Of course, the Mets receive plenty of attention over the course of a season, and Beltran, who signed a two-year, $26-million deal with St. Louis this winter, expressed curiosity over how new Mets centerfielder Andres Torres -- Beltran's teammate with the Giants last season -- would handle that.
"I think if he keeps things simple, he's going to have a good season," Beltran said of Torres, whom the Mets acquired along with reliever Ramon Ramirez from San Francisco for Angel Pagan last December. "Sometimes he complicates himself too much, thinks about it too much, second-guesses himself too much. Playing in New York is going to be a challenge for him, I bet.
"But I think he prepared himself well this offseason. He's going to be good."
Asked why he thought New York would present a challenge for Torres, Beltran said: "It's a different mentality, different market. Dealing with you guys every day isn't easy. It's not an easy task.
"The most important part is he works hard every day. The most important part is, he hustles. So I think fans are going to love him."
Torres said he spoke with Beltran during the winter about New York. "He kind of told me, there are more media, the people are nice. Things like that," Torres said. "He told me it's a great city. Just go there, he told me, play hard, they're going to love you."
Told that Beltran said New York would be a challenge for him, Torres said: "You're right. But I feel good. I've been working hard. I'm excited being here."
Meanwhile, Beltran still hasn't paid Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese for the nose job he had this winter, after promising to do so. Niese, however, said he isn't concerned.
"I'm not a debt collector," Niese said. "If he pays me, he pays me. It's not going to break me."