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Sports

He's a 6-tool player

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

star, judging by his previous stops in Kansas City and Houston. Even yesterday,

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

manager Steve Phillips once described Alex Rodriguez, already seem to have been

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

advantage of."

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,

anyway.

"If I put up some of the numbers he put up," Wright said, "I'll be more

than glad to chip in."

New York Sports