HOUSTON -- The end of the line will eventually come for Carlos Beltran's playing career, and sooner than later. After all, Father Time remains undefeated, and a 40-year-old Beltran certainly isn't the five-tool player he once was -- though his presence on the Astros has been felt way beyond the
HOUSTON -- The end of the line will eventually come for Carlos Beltran's playing career, and sooner than later. After all, Father Time remains undefeated, and a 40-year-old Beltran certainly isn't the five-tool player he once was -- though his presence on the Astros has been felt way beyond the field.
Beltran -- a nine-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time Gold Glove Award winner -- has built a Hall of Fame resume during a 20-year career in which he's suited up for seven teams, including two stints with the Astros (2004 and '17). He's yet to win a World Series ring, which is what makes Houston's run to the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World so meaningful to him.
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"I'm happy for the opportunity, blessed," Beltran said. "I'm excited to see how far we're going to go. As a team, we have been through ups and downs and had some injuries here and there, but we kind of got healthy as a team at the right time. … The team looks great."
One of the most well-respected players in the game, Beltran will be able to do just about whatever he wants once he decides to retire, whether it's coaching, television or perhaps even managing. For now, the fire and desire still burns in Beltran the player.
"Right now, I'm not thinking about that," Beltran said when asked about retirement. "At one point, yeah, I know that I've got to go home. I cannot play this game for all my life. I will make a decision based on what I want to do after all this is over."
Beltran, a terrific clutch postseason performer, came off the bench to deliver what would end up being the game-winning hit for the Astros in Monday's 5-4 win over the Red Sox in Game 4 of the AL Division Series presented by Doosan. His double off the Green Monster against closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth scored Marwin Gonzalez.
"He's been so clutch," said All-Star shortstop and follow Puerto Rican Carlos Correa. "There's nobody better in the postseason that's active right now that's better than him. We expected something good to happen."
Houston signed Beltran to a one-year, $16 million contract following the 2016 season to bring leadership to a young clubhouse that included up-and-coming stars such as Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman.
"Beltran has been every bit the poised veteran that was needed in that room," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's an experienced, high-level, high-intellect, highly respected player who young players, old players, coaches are immediately drawn to. … We're rooting for him to be a World Series champion. Now, some of that is for him, but most of it is for us -- we want to be champions."
Beltran is no stranger to New York. He signed with the Mets prior to the 2005 season, and he spent 2 1/2 years playing for the Yankees -- the team he's facing in the ALCS. Some of his fondest Yankees memories came when he was able to talk to legends such as Reggie Jackson during the team's Old-Timers' functions, and now he's the one enjoying watching younger Yanks play, such as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.
"They have been able to play well with a lot of younger guys, but the good thing also is they give those younger guys an opportunity to play every day, so that's huge," Beltran said. "That helps younger guys gain confidence and say, 'You know what? They believe in me and let me go out there and play the game.'"
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.