On his first day in Yankees pinstripes, Carlos Beltran had some choice words — for the Mets.
Having signed a $119 million, seven-year contract with the Mets before the 2005 season, Beltran was unhappy about his stay in Queens by the time he was dealt to San Francisco in July 2011.
He felt he was unfairly targeted for taking a called third strike from St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright on the final pitch of 2006 NL championship series Game 7. He was blamed for missing a team trip to the Walter Reed Medical Center in 2010 on a day when he had gone back home to Puerto Rico to do some charity work. He wasn’t too thrilled when management sparred with him over knee ailments.
And in a 2011 interview with The New Yorker, owner Fred Wilpon said the Mets "paid him based on one series. He’s 65 to 70 percent of what he was," a reference to Beltran’s eight homers in 12 games for Houston in the 2004 playoffs.
"Trying to put me as a player that I was a bad apple," Beltran said. "I can deal with 0 for 4’s, three strikeouts and talking to you guys. I can deal with that. But when someone is trying hurt you in a personal way, trying to put things out there that are not me, then we have trouble. Now it’s personal."
"When they say all that about myself, of course I was hurt," he added. "You cannot believe that the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down. In that aspect I felt hurt. I’m a player, but they not only hurt me they hurt my family, the people around me. It’s a shame."
Sporting his No. 36 jersey and joined by his wife and two daughters, Beltran talked about how much he admired the Yankees while growing up in Puerto Rico and how close he came to joining them previously.
"Having the opportunity to come back again as a Yankee really means a lot to me. I grew up being a Yankee fan, grew up being a Bernie Williams fan. At one point, I almost got the opportunity to sign with the Yankees. It didn’t work out," Beltran said. "But at the end of the day, what is in the past is in the past. I’m looking forward to joining this ballclub, looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Yankees general manager Cashman recalled late owner George Steinbrenner and his propensity for adding ex-Mets such as David Cone, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.
"George Steinbrenner and his family have had a chance to take some players that have been premier players across town with the New York Mets. Later in their careers, they’ve come over here to continue their successful runs as major league players," Cashman said.
In addition to Beltran, the Yankees gave outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury a $153 million, seven-year contract and catcher Brian McCann an $85 million, five-year deal, moves they hope will replace the offense lost when All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano left for a $240 million, 10-year agreement with Seattle.
Including not-yet-finalized deals with second baseman Brian Roberts and left-hander Matt Thornton, New York’s luxury tax payroll is at $177.7 million for 15 players. When benefits are included, they are within $1 million of the $189 million tax threshold for next year.
The Yankees’ only hope to get under is if an arbitrator upholds most of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension and they don’t have to pay most of his $25 million salary.
New York manager Joe Girardi says the ruling could have a significant impact on the team, which missed the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years.
"That could change what my whole thought process on what our lineup is," he said.
Beltran, who hit .296 for the Cardinals last season with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs, has played with five teams over 16 big league seasons.
He could be shuttled between right field and designated hitter. That would lessen some of the strain on the 36-year-old’s knees: he’s had two operations on his right, one on his left.
Coming off his first World Series appearance, Beltran hopes the Yankees return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
"In my case I don’t come here to replace nobody," Beltran said. "I come here to fill my own shoes."
NOTES:Gary Tuck rejoined the Yankees on Friday as bullpen coach. The 59-year-old Tuck was Girardi’s bench coach in 2006 with the Florida Marlins and was Boston’s bullpen coach from 2007-12. Tuck previously worked for the Yankees as a catching instructor, bullpen coach, scout and minor league manager. … The Yankees also hired Trey Hillman as special assistant of major and minor league operations, Mike Quade as a roving outfield and baserunning instructor, and Matthew Krause as strength and conditioning coordinator.