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Healthy Beltran ready to prove himself again

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran said that he has regained flexibility in his right elbow, and the Yankees outfielder is hitting and throwing freely as he prepares to report to Spring Training next month.

Beltran spoke to the YES Network recently while working out in Florida, and he said that he has been able to go through his full winter program following surgery on Sept. 30 to remove loose pieces and a bone spur from the elbow.

"The strengthening program, you know, we kind of basically did everything," Beltran said. "So the range of motion is there, bending is there. That's the most important part of rehab, trying to be able to get that range of motion back."

Beltran batted .233 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 109 games last season, his first with the Yankees. He was limited to just 31 starts in the outfield because of the elbow injury, making 76 starts as the designated hitter, and he's being counted on as the Yanks' Opening Day right fielder in 2015.

With two years and $30 million remaining on his deal with the Yankees, Beltran is set to turn 38 in April, and he said that he has made some concessions to age in his offseason training.

"There were things that I used to do that I don't do now," Beltran said. "I used to go to the track a lot and do a lot of jumping, a lot of running. But now I don't do that; I do it in the pool, less impact. I try to train smart."

An eight-time All-Star who leads all active switch-hitters in runs (1,392), hits (2,322), homers (373) and RBIs (1,376), Beltran acknowledged that he sometimes looks at his career statistics for a reminder of what he is capable of. He said that his subpar 2014 season is factoring into his motivation.

"I've always been motivated," Beltran said. "Last year was such a crazy year for me with the injury, trying to play through it. I didn't have the year that I was looking forward to having. This year, I just feel like I need to prove myself again. That's how it is."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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