Carlos Beltran is back and better than ever. Well, at least better than he's been for the majority of the season.
Beltran, who had his second straight two-hit game in the Yankees' 7-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds Saturday at Yankee Stadium, struggled in the first half, both at the plate and in the trainer's room.
Beltran, 37, batted .216 with a .271 on-base percentage, nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 61 games before the All-Star break. He also had two stints on the disabled list, the most recent of which ended Friday. He was activated from the seven-day concussion DL (he said Friday that he didn't actually have a concussion) after being struck by a ball and breaking two bones in his nose while hitting in an indoor cage July 9.
After going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI single in Friday night's victory over the Reds, Beltran came back with another 2-for-4 effort Saturday. His 380-foot home run to rightfield on Alfredo Simon's hanging curveball opened the scoring in the second inning and put the Yankees ahead for good.
"I was just trying to stay in the middle of the field,'' Beltran said. "[Simon] made some good pitches, a fastball inside and a splitter away, in the bottom of the strike zone. He threw a pitch up in the strike zone and I was able to hit it good.''
Beltran singled in the sixth inning and eventually scored on Kelly Johnson's two-run single. It was Beltran's 16th multi-hit game of the season and 13th two-hit game. "I'm seeing the ball good and getting good results,'' he said.
Beltran, who is unable to play rightfield because of a bone spur in his right elbow, continues to adjust to the DH role. That's been his job since he returned June 5 after his first DL stint.
"It is what it is,'' Beltran said. "I just have to come to the ballpark and focus on the things that I can control right now.''
He said he's feeling "OK,'' adding: "I think everyone at this point is not feeling 100 percent.''
Beltran had showed some improvement at the plate before his accident in the batting cage, going 7-for-20 with two home runs in one five-game stretch. "He started to swing the bat pretty well before he decided to hit the ball off his nose,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought he was getting going, and I was hoping the week off wouldn't hurt him. He seems to be feeling pretty good up there. He's extremely important to us.''
Beltran was careful not to make much out of two multi- hit games in mid-July. "We'll see,'' he said when asked if this could be a turning point for the rest of the year. "We'll see.''