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Mets, Fans Brace For Carlos Beltran’s Return To Citi Field

(credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN) – Carlos Beltran had some great seasons with the Mets. But the oft-injured star’s career in New York was marred by a certain moment against St. Louis in the 2006 National League Championship Series.

The Mets sent Beltran to San Francisco last July, and the outfielder signed with the Cardinals — yes, those Cardinals — this offseason for two years at $26 million.

Beltran, returning to Citi Field for the first time since the trade, will receive a short video tribute before Friday night’s game. Like during his time in the Big Apple, he’ll likely get both cheers and some major jeers from Mets fans.

“There were times I felt like, ‘What do I have to do in order to be one of their favorites?’ ” Beltran told the New York Post. “Fans choose who they want to cheer for. I’m a quiet player. You’re never going to see me out there showing a lot of emotion. I am who I am. When you try to be someone else then you’re being fake to yourself, and I don’t like to do that. I don’t know how it’s going to be (tonight). They’ll decide if they want to cheer or boo.”

Beltran compiled 149 home runs and 559 RBIs in over six seasons with New York, though he’ll probably be remembered most for striking out with the bases loaded — and the bat on his shoulder — to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

And guess who’s scheduled to start Friday night for St. Louis? Adam Wainwright, the same guy who delivered the wicked series-ending curveball to Beltran.

“If they want to remember that moment, that’s fine with me,” Beltran said. “For me, that was my best year in baseball. I don’t look at that moment as defining my career or defining my season.”

Fans’ expectations were through the roof when Beltran signed a seven-year, $119 million contract with New York before the 2005 season.

They got arguably one of the the best outfielders in team history. He could be brilliant when healthy, but for whatever reason was never fully embraced in Flushing.

“I think if we would’ve won a championship, it would’ve been a different story,” Beltran said. “I gave my best. The years that I was healthy, I proved I could contribute, and the years that I was hurt, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

This season, Beltran has been tearing the cover off the ball with a National League-best 15 home runs. His 42 RBIs are just two shy of the league lead. The 35-year-old has also dusted off his wheels with 6 stolen bases to go with a .294 average.

“He’s obviously having a great year, so I’m not that excited to see him,” said former teammate David Wright, according to the New York Daily News. “It’s nice to see him healthy and doing what he’s doing, for sure.”

Wright said Beltran should get “a pretty warm reception,” but Mets manager Terry Collins was perhaps more realistic when he stated, “I’m sure the reaction will be mixed.”

Heck, even the once-beloved Jose Reyes received a healthy dose of boos in his return last month.

“The one thing that Carlos Beltran did while he was here, he gave them effort and no player can do more,” Collins told the Daily News. “Obviously, everybody wishes that he would’ve had a career year every year and that he was hitting 40 homers every year. It’s fair to hope for, but not fair to ask that.”

He added: “I know one thing: Carlos Beltran gave these people what he had.”

What kind of reception should Beltran get? Sound off in the comments below…