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Big League Stew

Carlos Beltran’s playing like a kid out there

David Brown
Big League Stew

His performance Sunday had St. Louis Cardinals sportswriters wondering if 36-year-old slugger Carlos Beltran had found a fountain of youth.

Beltran reached on a bunt single to stoke the Cardinals' two-run third inning — following it up with a steal of home plate for the second run — and he made an impressive diving catch in fair territory on a blooper by Jeff Mathis of the Miami Marlins. Beltran's were no small contributions in a 3-2 victory for St. Louis.

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote:

What in the name of Ponce de Leon is Carlos Beltran trying to do?

[...]

Discussing his “small ball” offensive plays in the third, Beltran, who leads the club by a wide margin in home runs with 19, said, “That’s how I believe we have to play the game sometimes.

“We cannot depend every day on us hitting home runs, doubles and triples and scoring a lot of runs. Some days, you’ve got to manufacture.”

There you have it from a National League All-Star, youngsters. Beltran's philosophy has him batting .307/.347/.533 in 79 games for the Cardinals, who have played 87 total — so Beltran's been healthy, too, in case you were wondering. His 139 adjusted OPS compares favorably to his 123 career mark.

Beltran isn't running like he used to, partly by design, because the Cardinals — of all franchises — bring up the rear in stolen bases in the majors with 22. Beltran's steal of home with Matt Holliday taking second wasn't a straight steal; the Cardinals had runners at the corners moving in order to stay out of the double play:

(That's Willie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" acting as a good-luck charm, or something, in the Cards' TV booth.)

Anyway, Beltran showed that his legs are still effective, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said:

Beltran, who said his legs haven’t given him any trouble since spring training, sized up the matter quickly and dashed for home, sliding perfectly around catcher Mathis, who couldn’t handle first baseman Logan Morrison’s low throw.

“Obviously, (Beltran’s) legs are feeling pretty good,” said Matheny. “It was well executed as far as Carlos’ portion."

Long ball or small ball, Beltran is your guy, even at his age.

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