PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Center or right?
Carlos Beltran arrived in Mets camp Saturday and promptly met with general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins to talk about what position the former All-Star center fielder will play this season.
He could end up moving to right field, with Angel Pagan sliding over to center.
After the meeting, Alderson announced that Beltran will do a baseball-related running program over the next seven to 10 days to measure the health of his surgically repaired knee and whether it is strong enough to play center field.
“This is not about Carlos, this is about the team and what’s best for the team,” Beltran said. “I told them, ‘Don’t worry.’
“I’m a professional. I want to play this game as long as I can. I want to help this team win ballgames. If it’s best for Carlos and the team to move to right field, then I will.”
Collins said making the switch is not as easy as one might think. Beltran said he hasn’t played right field since 1995.
“I’ve talked to some guys who have played right field at CitiField and they say it’s not easy,” Collins said. “There is a lot of ground to cover there. If this move is made we have to make sure it’s made where there’s enough time for him to get ready.”
The 34-year-old Beltran is in the final year of a seven-year, $119 million contract. The 13-year veteran said he hopes to play four or five more years.
“It’s been great,” Beltran said of his time with the Mets. “Lots of ups and downs, but it’s been a great learning experience for me, especially dealing with all you guys. It’s been a great experience in my life.”
Beltran appeared to be in great shape and sounded eager to prove he can still be an all-star quality player.
“This year, I’m thinking about putting myself in a position to be the player people want to come to the ballpark to see,” Beltran said.
Collins said after Saturday’s meeting that he was very impressed with beltran.
“He said if I can’t help the team in center field I will tell you,” Collins said of Beltran. “I actually believe that he feels so good right now that he believes he can play center field.”
Beltran said regardless of where he ends up, he is eager to be back in the Mets’ lineup every day.
“I want to play every day because I know if I’m in the lineup every day then we’re a better lineup,” Beltran said. “My results this offseason have been great. I could do exercises I couldn’t do before. I’m hitting from both sides of the plate and I feel good. I don’t feel like I’m compensating at all.”
Collins acknowledged that because of Pagan’s experience in right, the Mets may benefit more if Beltran is physically able to stay in center.
“If Carlos can play center field, that might be our best lineup,” Collins said.