Next week, Vladimir Guerrero could become the third native of the Dominican Republic to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez. Chipper Jones seems a virtual lock to become the 17th third baseman honored in Cooperstown.Adrian Beltre, meanwhile, is getting ready for the start
Next week, Vladimir Guerrero could become the third native of the Dominican Republic to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez. Chipper Jones seems a virtual lock to become the 17th third baseman honored in Cooperstown.
Adrian Beltre, meanwhile, is getting ready for the start of his 21st big league season as he heads into the final year of his contract with the Rangers, putting the finishing touches on a career that would seem to eventually add him to the list of Dominicans and third basemen in the Hall of Fame.
A four-time All-Star, Beltre has earned four Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. He talked about the impact of his accomplishments in this week's chat:
MLB.com: When you reached 3,000 hits, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs said, "That means Cooperstown." Did you think about that?
Beltre: It is a big accomplishment, and I am very proud of what I have done. But I don't want to get caught up in the Hall of Fame. We will see when I get to that point.
MLB.com: Baseball seems to be a part of the nation's fabric in the Dominican Republic.
Beltre: It is the No. 1 sport in the Dominican. Dominican people have breaks -- lunch and dinner -- and talk baseball. They are very supportive of our players. We have a bunch of great players and soon-to-be Hall of Famers. Vladdy is probably going to get in. Big Papi's going to be in soon. For me to be one of those guys who [others] can look up to and be proud of would be very special. You would like to think you have played the game and lived in a way that your country can be proud of you because you represent them.
MLB.com: I remember talking to Nolan Ryan when you were a potential free agent and he was the president of the Rangers. He said it was imperative to re-sign you because you were such a factor in the success of the team.
Beltre: That is nice coming from Nolan, who I have so much respect for. I'm honored that he felt that way, and I am glad he did, because [Texas] was the right place for me. We accomplished a lot.
MLB.com: You are considered a leader. Is that something you try to be?
Beltre: It's not a conscious effort. You want to be sure your team is doing the right things and doing what needs to be done to be prepared for the game. It is a feeling that nobody is better than anybody else. We are all working together.
MLB.com: Your accomplishments seem to be so complete. Anything missing?
Beltre: A World Series. To me, I have had a decent career, accomplished a couple things. I have made good money. I enjoy this game. But I want to be a champion. That's what drives me every day. I want to win the World Series. It's not easy to get there. I have been there, but I haven't come out on top.
MLB.com: The Rangers did come close in 2011 when you lost to St. Louis in Game 7.
Beltre: Really close, but it's a sour situation whenever you think about it. I tell the young guys, "You might be OK to make the World Series, but to me, that's not enough." My window is closing. If I win a World Series, it would make it a lot easier for me to hang it up and go home and be with my kids. For me, it's difficult to go home, because I haven't earned that ring. If you like the game and you are good enough to compete and contribute to the ballclub, why go home? I understand if your body is not well enough or you're not producing and helping the team, but if you are contributing and feel good, why go home?
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.