Carlos Beltran held his first media press conference today at the annual Winter Meetings in San Diego. He was peppered with questions about the rumored change in ownership, the investigation in a Houston, Edwin Diaz, Yoenis Cespedes’ health and more. Here is the transcript of his Q&A from earlier today:
Q. What has the first month on your job entailed? What have you done?
CARLOS BELTRAN: It’s been a lot of work trying to catch up with all the information, all the details, trying to — being able to reach out to some of the players. I have some guys to go to, but it’s been fun. It’s been fun. It’s been a learning experience. There’s no doubt that being in the job, a lot of times from the outside you think that being a manager is something that happens from one day to another, but it really takes time to catch up with all the information. The good thing is I have a good group of guys around me that have been supportive, and they’ve been guiding me through the process.
Q. Are you worried at all with the new ownership change that you’re going to get a fair shot to see this thing through, including your deal?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Honestly, about the ownership, there’s very little I can comment on that. I was brought here to manage the ball club. That’s something that I don’t have a lot of information on it.
Q. Carlos, what’s your level of concern that there could be a suspension for the whole Houston situation?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Honestly, on Houston’s situation, I don’t have any comment for the respect of the process that has been happening. So I’m here to talk Mets baseball.
Q. So you expect to begin the season managing the team?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I’m looking forward to managing this ball club.
Q. If there is a suspension, would it be a setback if you couldn’t start until May or June?
CARLOS BELTRAN: You know what, I’m not going to comment on that because, like I said, the whole investigation is in the process by MLB baseball. So anything related to suspension, the Astros, I don’t have any comment on those.
Q. Have you spoken with MLB as part of their investigation?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I wouldn’t talk about it.
Q. With your coaching staff, how much of the picking was you, and how much was Brodie, and how much was Jeff?
CARLOS BELTRAN: It was a team effort. There’s no doubt that Brodie was there. Being the GM for sure, he’s going to be part of those meetings. At the end of the day, we felt we did a pretty good job picking the guys based on the needs that I have by being a first-time manager.
I wanted to have a guy with experience next to me, and we were able to hire Hensley Meulens. At the same time, with Luis Rojas, a guy who’s been in the Mets organization for a long time, who has managed some of those guys that are in the Big Leagues.
So I’m very, very happy with the coaching staff that we have, and I feel that, at the end of the day, I feel like we hired good people that are going to be a good influence in the clubhouse.
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten so far?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Be authentic, be you. That has been the advice that I have received from veteran guys that has managed the game before. So I’ve always been a student of the game of baseball, so I don’t have a problem reaching out to people for advice.
And that was something I did when I first got the job. I call some of the veteran guys in the league that have done this job for a long time, try to collect information from them, and that has been the advice from all of them almost.
Q. Carlos, as you go into the season, who’s your closer?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, right now, the way our bullpen is set up, the guy that we brought was Edwin Diaz to be closer, so there’s no doubt that last year he had a down year. This year he’s working really hard, and he’s in great shape. So we expect him to be in that position.
Q. Is that something he has to compete for in Spring Training, or you’re essentially saying he’s the guy?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, based on the decision the organization made, they hired him before I got here, to be the closer. So that’s something that we have to talk about.
Q. How does third base look right now? Does it look like McNeil’s going to play there most of the time?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Right now we see McNeil being the third baseman. We see him taking more reps there and we’re excited for him that his injury is almost back to normal so he’s going to be ready for Spring Training.
Q. And J.D. Davis can play over there a little bit too?
CARLOS BELTRAN: J.D. will be a guy that will be playing third base, left field, kind of like the same role he had last year. There’s no doubt that he had a good year last year. So we like his bat. So we need to find a bat for J.D. Davis.
Q. You’ve seen the evolution of relievers for 30 years. Are you of the school never use them three days in a row or rarely or depends on the situations?
CARLOS BELTRAN: The way baseball has been hitting, there’s no doubt that organizations are being more cautious with the bullpen guys, and there’s no doubt that, if you use the bullpen guys too often, you’re going to put them in a risk to be injured.
So we hired Jeremy Hefner, who’s going to be our pitching coach. I’m excited to have him with our ball club. Jeremy is a guy that just retired a few years ago, and he understands that position.
So there’s going to be a lot of communication between Jeremy and I and the way we use our bullpen guys.
Q. You played with Marisnick? What kind of player is he?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Marisnick is a very talented guy … he was a guy in Houston that basically came from the bench to upgrade the defense. We hired him based on our need in centerfield. So he will be playing some centerfield, but at the same time, most importantly, he will be boosting our defense in the outfield.
Q. How often do you see him playing, among all your outfielders, kind of the moving pieces there?
CARLOS BELTRAN: You know what, we have to be creative being able to use the guys and position the guys and give the guys the reps so they could be not too far from the game. We want those guys to basically be active. So Marisnick, Conforto, Nimmo, those guys — we have to find a way we can play them, but at the same time, we have to be smart to rest them.
Q. Have you talked to Yoenis yet?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Yes, I have. He’s in Port St. Lucie. He’s hitting. He’s making progress. We don’t know when he’s going to get back, but that’s something when I get back to Spring Training, we will see where he is.
Q. Does he expect to play next year?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I don’t know. I would hope yes. I would hope that he will — he’s looking forward to play. There’s no doubt that he’s rehabbing, and he’s putting all this effort to get back. There’s no doubt also that his injury is a tough injury. I just hope he recuperates completely from his injury and he’s capable of getting back.
Q. What can you make of Jed Lowrie’s last season, and what do you make of him fitting in?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I haven’t seen too much of Jed Lowrie, but what I have seen from him, playing against him, there’s no doubt he’s a good player. When he’s healthy, there’s no doubt he can be an impact in the lineup, and defensively especially can give a manager flexibility by using him from both sides of the plate. So Jed Lowrie is another guy that we’re looking forward to having in Spring Training ready to go.
Q. I know you said you didn’t want to comment on the investigation with the Astros, but I’m just wondering, now that you’re a Major League manager, would you have a problem with another team using cameras to see signs in realtime?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I know where you’re coming from, and I understand you’re trying to do your job and ask those questions, but I wouldn’t answer any questions in that area.
Q. Just generally speaking, you don’t want to answer?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I wouldn’t answer.
Q. Have you talked to Edwin (Diaz) about kind of that transition to a bigger market in New York and how it can be difficult that first year?
CARLOS BELTRAN: It’s a process. People a lot of times don’t understand, but when you come from a low-market team to a small-market team to a team that is in New York and you’re going to get all this attention, there’s no doubt that you want to prove yourself. And a lot of times, when things don’t go right, you put extra pressures on yourself.
So I think, yeah, he went through a process last year where he needed to go through. I don’t think, if he would have received all this good advice, maybe it would have helped him a little bit, but you’ve got to go through the process to understand the system and understand how things work.
There’s no doubt that he realizes it’s a learning experience, so I believe he’s going to be ready for it this year. He’s super talented. What he did in Seattle is not a fluke. I have faced him a lot, and the guy has power stuff.
Q. What allowed you to be more yourself that second year as a player?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, at least in my case, because I came with a big contract, I was trying to please everybody and forgot about my priorities as a player. My priorities as a player were to prepare, to be ready, and to try to make sure that I did check all the boxes before I got to the game. So a lot of times I got caught up in doing things that were not related to baseball. So that really cost me. So second year, I understood that, and I made good adjustments.
Q. What was your relationship like with Diaz, after I believe you were Puerto Rico teammates during the WBC?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Good relationship with him. We have been in contact. He has been training hard, like I said. He’s eager to get back, and he’s eager to prove himself, and I believe, as a player, that’s the right mentality that you should have. Not because you had a good year the year before. It doesn’t mean that you have to prove yourself. I do believe that every single year you need to show up hungry to Spring Training and make sure that the people see the work that you did in the off-season.
Q. And has he offered any ideas on what went wrong — what does he think went wrong for him last year that he wants to fix?
CARLOS BELTRAN: There were some mechanical issues last year, and I do feel very, very confident with Jeremy Hefner on board that we’re going to be able to be on top of those and hopefully limit those moments in baseball.
Q. You talked about maybe mixing up his off-season routine a little bit. Has he expressed any of that to you? Or what do you feel he needs to do differently?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Something we did as an organization is we sent a group of professionals to Puerto Rico to work with him in different areas, training areas, and he was very receptive with all the information. What players need to understand these days is the organization are investing a lot of money and resources, and those resources are there for them. We want the players to use those resources. We want the players to benefit from those resources because, at the end of the day, the goal of the organization is to prolong the player’s career.
Q. How about Familia? Is that a little more confusing because he’s a guy who had so much success before and just kind of fell off?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, I wasn’t here last year. I have faith in Familia … [he] has incredible stuff. Since he got to the Big Leagues and to this point, his velocity is there. So I had a conversation with him, and he’s working extremely hard. He’s lost almost 20 pounds, so he’s lighter. To me that shows he wants to prove himself this year. There’s no doubt that he wants to get back into the Familia that we all know.
Q. How did he lose 20 pounds so fast?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I mean, he’s working hard. He’s working hard. He’s making adjustments.
Q. How much will you lean on Terry Collins in your first year as a manager?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I see Terry as a resource, and he’s one of my mentors in baseball. The year that I played with Terry, we got along real well. He was able to manage my situation here in a professional way. So my relationship with him is a professional one, and there’s no doubt that he managed here for seven years, so he has a lot of experience in every aspect of the game. So I don’t have any problem reaching out to Terry Collins and talking baseball.
Q. With Cano, do you see him as a player that might be reaching the end of his career, or just the injuries slowed him down last season?
CARLOS BELTRAN: We’re counting on Cano. He’s another guy that had a bad year last year. Knowing him, knowing his preparation, I have no doubt he’ll show up at Spring Training ready to go.
Q. Did you gain any insight on why he wasn’t as healthy last year? Do you see it as a fluke?
CARLOS BELTRAN: Well, it seems to me like all his injuries that he had were lower body injuries, and there’s no doubt that, when you get to play this game as long as he has, you has to make adjustments. I played until 40, and I dealt with a situation on my knee where I needed to be creative with my preparation and try to do exercises that were low-impact exercises. So we had a conversation based on that.
Q. Hensley said he used to stay at the ballpark with Bochy until 3:00 a.m. Do you expect to throw yourself into the job just as much?
CARLOS BELTRAN: I like to go home before 3:00 a.m. He can stay. I like Hensley. He’s a great guy. He’s a great human being. When I was traded from the Mets to San Francisco, he was my hitting coach, so I got to see him working. When this opportunity happened, there were a lot of guys on that list for me to interview, and one of the guys that kind of stood out was Hensley Meulens just because of the kind of guy he is and also how he can relate to players. So it was a connection right away we were able to make.