NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Carlos Beltran has wanted to put on the pinstripes for a long time.
He’s finally gotten his wish.
Fans got their first look at the second addition to New York’s revamped outfield when the Yankees introduced Beltran at a press conference Friday. Jacoby Ellsbury was introduced last week.
“Having the opportunity to come back again (to New York) really means a lot to me,” Beltran said on Friday. “I grew up being a Yankees fan. I grew up being a Bernie Williams fan. … As a player — and first of all, as a fan — I used to look up to this organization. They always did what it takes to put good teams out there and win championships.”
The eight-time All-Star agreed to terms with the Yankees on Dec. 6. His three-year, $45 million contract was announced by the team Thursday.
“This is someone that has always wanted to be a Yankee,” general manager Brian Cashman said.
The three-time Gold Glove Award winner admitted as much to WFAN co-hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts following his introductory press conference, saying that his first choice was to sign with the Yankees — not the Mets — in 2005.
“Honestly, they were (my first choice),” the veteran told the radio duo in regard to the Yankees. “They were there, but at the same time they couldn’t do anything about it. The Yankees were going through a salary cap (issue) and they couldn’t commit to me for the years I was looking for. And the Mets came in, and they committed to me, and I felt like I made the right decision.”
The 36-year-old played for the Mets from 2005-11, when he was dealt to San Francisco. He signed a $26 million, two-year contract with St. Louis before the 2012 season and reached the World Series for the first time this year.
“It’s gonna be fun, no doubt about it,” Beltran said during his press conference about returning to Citi Field for the Subway Series. “I have good memories in Queens and all I have to say about the Mets is just a lot of good things. I was fortunate to play in a good organization, being able to be around good people. And you know, it’s gonna be different, no doubt about it. At the end of the day, we’re gonna go out, we’re gonna play, we’re gonna try to win.
“That’s our job as ballplayers. The reaction is gonna be different. Some are gonna cheer, some are gonna boo, but at the end of the day I’m there to play baseball.”
Slowed by knee injuries, Beltran has retained a potent bat — especially in October. He hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs for the Cardinals this year and added two homers and 15 RBIs in the postseason. Beltran injured his ribs in the World Series opener when he banged into Fenway Park’s right-fight fence while robbing Boston’s David Ortiz of a grand slam.
“To be able to add another switch-hitter to the middle of our order gives me so much flexibility,” manager Joe Girardi said.
He’s a .283 lifetime hitter with 358 homers and 1,327 RBIs.
“At one point I almost got the opportunity to sign with the Yankees and it didn’t work out,” Beltran said. “But at the end of the day, what is in the past is in the past. I’m just looking forward to joining this ballclub, looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Beltran still seems upset with Mets for some controversies & organizational leaks during his time there. "It wasnt right. Put it that way."
— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) December 20, 2013
Beltran will wear No. 36, as he announced on Twitter and Instagram.
New York seems to have a logjam among outfielders on its roster, a group that includes Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells.
To open a roster spot, the Yankees designated right-hander Brett Marshall for assignment.
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)