Back to Work: Evaluating Carlos Beltran's Season Debut in San Francisco

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Back to Work: Evaluating Carlos Beltran's Season Debut in San Francisco
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Carlos Beltran had a mixed night in his return to action on Thursday against the San Francisco Giants, although the general consensus should be that there were more positives than negatives to take from his debut.

Beltran finished 1-for-4 with a putout, and while Mets fans will be happy to have him back in the lineup, he obviously isn't back to full strength yet.

His lone hit came in the third inning, before he was subsequently thrown out trying to swipe second, and it was also apparent that he needs time to gel with his teammates in the outfield.

Here is a brief summary of his return to Major League action.



At the Plate

Going 1-for-4 with a single is fairly typical and uneventful, but you have to remember, he was facing two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who only allowed six base hits—all singles—in a complete game shutout.

He took a low-90s fastball for a strike right down broadway in his first at-bat before flying out on a pitch at the letters. He singled through the hole between first and second in his second at-bat, waiting on a hanging breaking ball belt-high and keeping his hands back long enough not to pull it foul.

Beltran tapped a comebacker to Lincecum to end the fifth inning and then grounded out in the ninth when the Mets needed a baserunner to get the tying run to the plate.

Lincecum set up his changeup with a good fastball, and it's obviously going to take some time for him to adjust to Major League pitching. It's going to come, though, so I wouldn't be too worried.


In the Field

Very few balls came near Beltran on Thursday night, which is a nice introduction back to playing nine innings.

He snagged a pretty routine fly ball from Aubrey Huff in the first inning when he had made a good break to come in on the play, but he only had one other ball to field the rest of the game.
 
Juan Uribe lofted a 1-0 pitch to left-center field in the bottom of the third inning. Beltran appeared to take a pretty good route to the ball, but he didn't seem to be going at it full speed. Jason Bay glanced over towards Beltran as he tracked the ball towards the warning track, and it was Bay who needed to take charge of the play in the end when communication wasn't forthcoming.

Like with his approach in the batters' box, the communication will come with time. When he's fully fit, he'll make that play without hesitating. It's okay for him to leave those kinds of balls for Bay, but there are two conditions. First, he has to talk to his leftfielder. Secondly, he better be sure Bay can get there, because that was a centerfielder's ball to call off. There are going to be big questions if it drops for a double in the gap just because he wasn't hustling all the way to the ball and assumed Bay would have his back.



On the Basepaths


Coming off of knee surgery, fans weren't really expecting too much from Beltran in terms of his wheels. He was only on base once, and he was thrown out when the next batter was up.

Beltran tested his knee in the third inning when he tried to steal second base. After reaching on a single, Beltran tried to run on a 2-1 pitch with Ike Davis at the plate. But Giants catcher Buster Posey gunned Beltran down pretty easily at second, even though it took a perfect throw.

The slide was textbook and he popped up without any grimace, which is promising. The jump was okay, but just the fact that he wasn't afraid to try to take second was a good sign when you consider he didn't even try to steal a base in his rehab assignment.

The only other noteworthy thing was that Beltran was a little slow out of the box in the ninth inning. He grounded out but didn't really try to beat out the throw. It could have been because he didn't want to push it too hard in his first game back, but either play hard or don't play. I'm glad he's back, and let's hope this is the start of things to come.

There's nothing to really be worried about tonight, and there's nothing that I saw that can't be fixed with time. If he sees regular time in center, he could be an important cog for the team going forward. Remember, he's not going to see someone like Lincecum every day of the week.

 

To read the best, worst, and most likely scenarios for Carlos Beltran and the second half of the season, click here.

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