LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Carlos Beltrán is one of four Puerto Rican players to appear in all four World Baseball Classics, the most of any nation. Beltrán, who turns 40 in April, has put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career with 421 home runs and 312 steals, to say nothing of his postseason heroics.
The veteran has saved some of his best work for the WBC, with a career .313 average and 10 extra base hits in 28 games. Beltrán has the most starts at designated hitter (17, including tonight) of any player in Classic history, along with the most walks (19) and the most runs (17-tied). He is second in hits (30, one from tying the record) and third-most total bases (46).
We talked to him briefly after Puerto Rico clinched a spot in the WBC championship
Gabriel Fidler: You’re one of the veteran leaders on this team. How are you tapping into—especially your previous World Baseball Classic experience—in preparing these guys, especially the younger guys that it’s their first tournament?
Carlos Beltrán: I think it’s important when you have experience you share it with the younger guys and the fact that these younger guys are hungry for baseball, they listen and they want to learn. For me, it’s a great thing, because my job as a veteran guy is to help the younger guys understand the different types of situations they might have during the Classic and focus on the details.
Most importantly, you gotta be you. You cannot take the field thinking you gotta be the hero that day. I think if you do your job and you let the people around you do your job, that’s the right mentality.
GF: Do you find, in return, that these younger guys give you older players energy?
CB: There’s no doubt. They bring a lot of energy and you feed from that. In my case, I gotta do what I gotta do. I’m a veteran guy, I know my preparation, that would not affect my preparation, but watch them play every day, hard, it’s a beautiful thing.
Beltrán walked in the first inning of the championship game and could set the career hits mark with a multi-hit performance.