BOSTON — Carlos Beltran might love his bat more than any baseball player this side of Pedro Cerrano.
At Tuesday's World Series media day, Beltran sat in front of a table for 45 minutes answering every question thrown his way by reporters who huddled around him like he was a pop star. It figures.
He's one of the main figures in this St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox series. He's the veteran looking for his World Series ring. Sitting right in front of Beltran, as he answered question and after question, was his bat.
"Now I'm better," he says. "I used to travel with a bat in my suitcase."
Maybe you're like us and this makes you chuckle, thinking of the film "Major League" with Cerrano, the superstitious power hitter who put hats on his bats. But for Beltran, it's much more serious than that.
"This is what we do for a living," Beltran says. "I can't go home and say, 'You know what? Let me leave everything at the ballpark. Don't think about baseball. Then tomorrow I'll get it."
That's why as USA Today's Bob Nightengale told us the after the Cardinals won the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a restless Beltran was up in wee hours of the morning before the Game 6, sitting in his bed, clutching his bat, mentally preparing himself.
"I have a bat next to my bed," Beltran says. "I was gripping the bat and just thinking about it."
"When I go to bed, I go to bed thinking about my job and what I need to do to prepare myself, what things I should to do to get better ... I think about baseball — a lot. That game when we were going to face the best pitcher in baseball [Kershaw], I was thinking what could be better approach that I can have at the plate against him?"
If that's what he did before Game 6 of the NLCS, then it figures he'd bring his bat to media day. This is, after all, Beltran's first World Series in a 16-year career. He's been great in nine postseason series in four seasons, hitting .337/.449/.724 with 37 RBIs and 16 homers. But he's never been to — or won, obviously — a World Series until now.
If you talk to his teammates, the younger ones, the ones who didn't have to wait as long to make a World Series, they'll tell you the team is playing with Beltran's ring-less finger in mind.
"We've been really trying to force that issue. He wants one," pitcher Joe Kelly said, a few tables down from Beltran. "And I want one too."
Beltran signed with the Cardinals before the 2012 season. He made the playoffs with the Houston Astros (2004), the New York Mets (2006) and then with the Cardinals last season.
"If it doesn't happen, in my heart, last year and this year I feel like a winner because I made a good decision to sign with a good organization," Beltran says. "It gave me the opportunity to be in the playoffs. This is what you dream of as a player.
"Winning the world series, I know how difficult that can be. At the end of the day, we have what it takes."
- - - - - - -