Carlos Beltran was still in an Astros uniform when he first mentioned it. Maybe he didn’t have visions of being the new Yankees manager, but as he talked to general manager Brian Cashman and told him he was planning to retire after the season, he made it abundantly clear that he wouldn’t mind sporting a different pinstriped uniform once his playing career was over.
“I basically said to him if there’s anything I could do with this organization once I retired, I would be available,” he said Wednesday after interviewing for the Yankees’ open managerial position. “Because honestly, the time I spent in New York was a great time, and I really enjoyed every moment.”
Beltran said that the meeting with Yankees brass went “well.” They talked baseball, he outlined his plan for the team, and he later told reporters that despite his lack of managerial experience, there were things that made him a strong candidate. He spent three years with the Yankees mentoring younger players and, in his final year with the Astros, he essentially took on the role of player-coach — guiding the youth movement that was on its way to a World Series.
“We discussed strategies,” he said. “We discussed how we can get better as a ballclub . . . I think it’s going to be fun, me being able to get this job and work with all these younger guys, and I think the passion that I have for the game, the way that I study for the game. As a manager, I don’t want to be a manager that comes to the ballpark and waits for the game start. I want to be a proactive manager that interacts with the players and is always bringing something to the table for the players.”
The Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi about a month ago and Beltran, 40, became the sixth candidate who interviewed for the position. He spent over six seasons with the Mets and three more with the Yankees, spanning nearly half of his 20-year career. Beltran said he first heard from Cashman three days ago about interviewing for the job, although he floated the idea of returning to the organization while he was still playing. He always respected Cashman, he said, for making a good-faith effort to trade him to a World Series-contending team as he was approaching the end of his career (Beltran had never won a World Series prior to this season).
“Honestly, I got very excited because it wasn’t something I was expected this soon,” Beltran said. “I personally feel that when I first retired from baseball, I thought I was going to be able to spend a little time with the family, but the fact that I got the call to be interviewed, this is something that you cannot turn away from it.”
Shortly after, Beltran consulted with Omar Minaya, the Mets’ former GM, about what the interview process would be like. Despite working under several managers, Beltran’s Mets connection remained strong: When asked about a skipper who had a big influence on him, he named former Mets manager Terry Collins.
“He was able to handle my situation with my knee injury and allow me to get back in the lineup, and he gave me the rest when I needed the rest,” he said. Beltran also said that if he doesn’t get the job, he would be interested in managing in the minor leagues.
“I’m committed with the job,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that. I’m excited if I get the opportunity and if it doesn’t happen now, this is something that at the end of the day, I [want to] accomplish in my career. I would love to manage. I would love to get back to the game.”