PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Carlos Beltran may be as
complete a player as there is in baseball, which is why the Mets paid $119
million for his rare combination of speed, power and defensive skill.
Now it looks as if Beltran is throwing in leadership at no extra charge.
For all his talent, the Mets' centerfielder figured to be an introspective
during the club's first official workout, Beltran moved from field to field
largely unnoticed, blending in among his teammates.
But that perception of Beltran changed dramatically later in the afternoon
when he revealed that he had invited two of the Mets' young stars, David Wright
and Jose Reyes, to join him in his training regimen at a Gold's Gym across the
street from Tradition Field.
When asked why, Beltran replied: "Because I believe that they're going to
be here for a long time and they have the potential to be better players. I'm
just happy to have young players on the team like them."
Beltran was signed to be the future of the Mets, and by embracing the
franchise's two most promising players, he is fulfilling the front office's
dream of laying a foundation of success into the next decade.
Any fears of Beltran becoming a 24-and-1 player, as former Mets general
swept aside in the early days of spring training.
There are moments when Beltran is undeniably different from the rest of the
Mets. He has been forced to sit for two news conferences in three days, and
with so many requests for cover shoots and magazine portraits, Beltran seems to
be perpetually dressed in full uniform long after his teammates have gone home.
But after those duties are finished, Beltran joins his personal trainer for
an evening session that focuses on baseball-specific exercises to improve his
agility. Beltran hired the trainer before the start of last season, and he
believes Wright and Reyes could benefit from his guidance.
"I thought he was joking at first," Wright said. "I thought he was going to
have me show up at Gold's and no one was going to be there - a little rookie
prank. It's very flattering for him to think as highly of me to invite me and
Jose to go work out with him. It's definitely something I'd like to take
Wright was already a regular at Gold's, and he planned to join Beltran last
night to begin the sessions. Reyes talked with Beltran yesterday, but had not
yet signed on for the workout. Reyes, with his history of leg problems, still
follows a program designed by New Orleans-based fitness specialist Mackie
Shilstone, and to this point has shown no signs of a relapse.
Beltran was correct to emphasize the word "potential" when talking about
Wright and Reyes. Wright, 22, made a big impression last year by hitting .293
with 14 home runs in 69 games, but he has yet to play a full season. As for
Reyes, his career has been sabotaged by fragile legs, and the 21-year-old
shortstop has played a total of 122 games in the past two years.
Unlike Beltran, those two still have plenty to prove, but he sees
similarities between himself and his maturing teammates. In a way, Beltran
wants to be the mentor he never had with the Royals.
"I didn't need it because I'm a guy that likes to work," Beltran said. "And
being around Reyes and being around Wright, I know what concerns they have. It
would be good for them to let them know, for you to be successful, you need to
continue to work. They're hard-working, but for you to stay healthy, you need
to work more."
Beltran, with his resume, won't have to ask twice. Though his salary would
suggest he doesn't need help paying the trainer, Beltran may have some offers,
"If I put up some of the numbers he put up," Wright said, "I'll be more
than glad to chip in."