Beltran welcomed warmly in former home at ASG
Cards outfielder reflects on past and present, notches first hit for NL
NEW YORK -- Long before the three would wear the same uniform, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran found themselves forever connected through the events of one October night in New York.
Molina hit the tie-breaking home run. Wainwright threw the curve. Beltran left the bat on his shoulder.
Seven years later, all three returned to Queens as All-Stars, their careers, to varying degrees, defined by the outcome of that 2006 National League Championship Series elimination game. Clearly, time had not healed the hearts of Mets fans, either.
Upon being introduced as All-Stars, both Wainwright and Molina took boos from many in the Citi Field sellout crowd. Beltran, whose successful stint as a Met was clouded by that one at-bat in which he froze, was greeted much more warmly. He received a louder applause than any other non-Mets player on the NL squad.
"I was surprised, honestly," Beltran said after the NL's 3-0 loss to the American League. "Wearing a St. Louis uniform in New York where a lot of people don't see St. Louis, here, with good eyes based on what happened in 2006. But it was fun. I really appreciated it. I really enjoyed my time when I played with the Mets, but like everything in life, you have to move on. It's been three years since I've been a part of the Mets. I understand also that they have moved on. I'm glad that I got the reception that I got. I'm just happy that it happened that way."
When the Cardinals visited New York last month, Beltran was greeted with a much more mixed chorus of cheers and boos. During his seven-year stint with the Mets, Beltran hit .280 with 149 homers, 559 RBIs and 100 stolen bases in 839 games.
The eight-time All-Star batted second and started in right field at his former home on Tuesday. After grounding out in his first-inning at-bat against AL starter Max Scherzer, Beltran tallied the NL's first hit with a fourth-inning single off Seattle's Felix Hernandez.
"When I got my first at-bat, I was thinking, 'Who am I going to get next?'" Beltran later joked. "I got a pitch to hit and was able to stay inside and get a little hit there. These are All-Stars. It's not going to be a piece of cake out there."
It was one of only three hits the NL would have in its shutout loss. Beltran's homecoming ended with the single, too, as NL manager Bruce Bochy promptly replaced him with pinch-runner Andrew McCutchen.
Beltran, whose All-Star start was the sixth of his career, is now 7-for-17 in the Midsummer Classic.
"It was a great atmosphere, had great life," Beltran said at evening's end. "It was beautiful to see, honestly. Fans were really excited. An All-Star Game, fans have to be excited to watch all the best players in the world together playing in a game in a city like New York, where this is a lot of passion about the game of baseball."