Beltre bids farewell after one-of-a-kind career
Third baseman: 'I think it was the perfect time' to retire
ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels received the call from Adrián Beltré one night about 10 days ago. Daniels knew instinctively what the subject was about.
Beltre had made his decision about retirement and got right to the point with the general manager. The tone of his voice was solemn.
"Adrian is pretty direct," Daniels said. "He doesn't mince words. He started off and said, 'Hey, this is a tough decision, for me. I have decided to play.'"
The shock was still to come.
"He said, 'I got an offer from the Dodgers and I am going to play for the Dodgers.'" Daniels said.
Daniels was stunned.
"I don't know how I responded, if it was awkward silence or I stumbled over my words," Daniels said. "He started laughing and said, 'I'm just kidding, I am really going to retire.'"
Even to the end, Beltre couldn't help but have a little fun with the general manager.
"I just didn't want to come straight out and tell him," Beltre said. "I thought it would be funny. I couldn't help it. I wanted to do it longer, but I couldn't do it. I think there was silence for two minutes and then I started laughing."
Beltre is indeed retiring, and he announced his decision in a statement released by the Rangers two days before Thanksgiving. He came back to Globe Life Park on Friday for an event that was part press conference and part celebration of his 21-year Major League career that almost certainly will be honored one day with induction into the Hall of Fame.
There was an All-Star turnout befitting a four-time All-Star. Beltre was joined by his wife Sandra, daughters Cassandra and Camila and his son, Adrian Jr.
Daniels was there along with Rangers owners Ray Davis and Neil Leibman, new manager Chris Woodward, new hitting coach Luis Ortiz, other members of the front office and teammates Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Shawn Tolleson, Matt Bush, Willie Calhoun, Delino DeShields and Chris Martin.
The list of former teammates included Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Derek Holland. Along with Andrus, they played on the 2011 Rangers team that lost to the Cardinals in the World Series, and they wanted to be there on Friday to help pay tribute to Beltre.
"I wanted to hear him speak about his retirement and show respect," Kinsler said. "I want him to know that I respected everything he did in his career. From Day 1, he was a joy to play with. He was a great teammate. I wouldn't want to miss this."
Beltre waited about six weeks after the season before officially announcing his retirement. But he pretty much knew well into the season that this was going to be it for him. Beltre said he had his mind made up as far back as the end of May when he went on the disabled list for a second time because of a strained left hamstring.
"I felt that it was enough," Beltre said. "I went into the offseason thinking that was it for me. I just waited a little longer than I wanted to because I heard that baseball players, before they decided to retire, they get an itch about want to come back. I was waiting for that, but I didn't get it."
Beltre said he has no second thoughts about retiring and there were no tears shed at the press conference. Typical of Beltre, the press conference produced more laughs than anything else. He seemed to be having as much fun with it as he did with his legendary confrontations with Mariners pitcher Félix Hernández or his dugout hijinks with Andrus.
"Want me to cry?" Beltre said. "It's not that it's been difficult. I didn't expect to be emotional because I'm really happy with what I am doing. Maybe in two weeks, maybe in March or February, it's going to hit me, but as of right now, I don't have any second thoughts about what I'm doing."
Beltre said it was important for him to leave the game on "my own terms" rather than being forced out by injury or poor performance. He ended up hitting .273 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs in 119 games this past season. He also hit .279 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs and a .651 slugging percentage in 24 games in September, leaving a strong impression that he could still play the game at a high level.
"I did not want to be pushed out of the game," Beltre said. "Over the last two seasons, it's been a little difficult for me with injuries, and I did not want to deal with another year like that. I thought that if I maybe decided to play again, and I went through another year like that -- I think the guys know how I get when I'm hurt; I'm not a happy camper.
"It's one of the things I hate the worst. I can deal with slumps or a bad stretch. But when I get hurt, I can't stand it. I didn't want to go through another year like that, so I think it was the perfect time for me to do it, so that's what I did."