HOUSTON -- Unlike former Cubs catcher David Ross, who earned the moniker "Grandpa Rossy" in 2016 from his teammates for being the oldest regular contributor on the club at age 39, outfielder Carlos Beltran has yet to be tagged with an affectionate nickname, even though he's the Astros' first 40-year-old
HOUSTON -- Unlike former Cubs catcher David Ross, who earned the moniker "Grandpa Rossy" in 2016 from his teammates for being the oldest regular contributor on the club at age 39, outfielder Carlos Beltran has yet to be tagged with an affectionate nickname, even though he's the Astros' first 40-year-old player since 42-year-old Doug Brocail in 2009.
"David Ross has a lot of white hair, and I don't have a lot of white hair," joked Beltran, who made his debut in 1998, eight days before current teammate Carlos Correa turned 4 years old. "I'm not at that point yet."
Beltran planned to celebrate his 40th birthday Monday by flying home to New York on Houston's off-day to spend time with his wife and three kids -- including his 17-month-old son. He'll join the Astros on Tuesday in Cleveland with the hope that his 20th Major League season will bring him his first World Series ring.
That's about the only thing missing from a Hall of Fame resume that includes the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year Award, nine All-Star Game appearances, three Gold Glove Awards, 2,635 hits, 423 homers, 1,543 RBIs, 312 stolen bases and a reputation as one of the game's greatest postseason performers.
"I'm blessed," Beltran said. "I'm very grateful for the opportunity that has allowed me to play this game for such a long time and be able to be around and compete. That's what I love to do. I love to compete and I love the game of baseball, and I'm fortunate to be able to join this club, which has a lot of young guys, a lot of talent, and we have a good team."
Beltran is now one of eight active players who is at least 40 years old; he and Miami's Ichiro Suzuki (43) are the oldest position players in baseball. You wouldn't know it by looking at Beltran, who keeps himself in good shape and says he's done the same weight and conditioning routine for the past 10-12 years.
"I don't [feel 40], but, hey, I just have to celebrate instead of thinking, 'You know what, I'm getting old,'" Beltran said. "I'm happy where I am. I'm healthy. Thank God for that, and I'm in the big leagues. I'm living my dream."
How much longer Beltran plays will depend on his health and performance, he said. The Astros signed him to a one-year, $16 million contract to return to Houston and provide a veteran bat at designated hitter, while bringing a wealth of experience to a team on the rise.
"If I'm satisfied with that, I might play another year," Beltran said. "If not, I might go home. I don't really think about it like, 'OK, you know what, I'm planning on doing this or that.' My thing will be based on production and how I feel."
As far as turning 40, Beltran doesn't seek any special presents -- or nicknames from teammates. He just wants continued health.
"I think that's the most important thing we call can ask for, be healthy and I'm blessed to be able to play this game," Beltran said. "When I was a kid, I always dreamed of becoming a Major League ballplayer, and thankfully God allowed me to do that. I'm still here."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.