NEW YORK (AP) — Exactly four weeks after winning his first World Series title on his final day as a major league player, Carlos Beltran walked into Yankee Stadium for his interview to become New York's manager.
"I never thought that this moment was going to come this soon after retirement," he said Wednesday. "I thought that I was going to be able to spend a little time with the family, but the fact that I got the call to be interviewed, this is something that you cannot turn away from it, because these type of opportunities, especially the one with the Yankees, they don't come very often."
The 40-year-old was a nine-time All-Star who hit 435 home runs over 20 big league seasons and spent half his career in New York — including 2 1/2 years with the Yankees from 2014-16. Having interviewed five candidates earlier this month to replace Joe Girardi, New York general manager Brian Cashman called Beltran on Sunday.
"At the beginning it's a little bit overwhelming. There's a lot of information that you have to digest," Beltran said. "Being a player and being able to play this game for such a long time, I have seen a lot, and I have seen the importance of what players need in the clubhouse, especially this clubhouse, where you see a lot of younger guys."
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has said he is wary, but not opposed, to candidates with no previous managing or coaching experience. Beltran thinks becoming a designated hitter in the waning stage of his career was preparation for running a dugout.
He would hire a strong bench coach in the dugout to advise him.
"I got to see the game from a different view," he said. "I got to be actually like a players' coach in the clubhouse, being able to be active with the younger guys, being able to help them."
Houston players credited Beltran with a rousing postgame speech following the Game 5 loss to the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, which put New York ahead 3-2 in the best-of-seven matchup. The Astros returned home, swept the next two games and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series for the first title in the history of the franchise, which started play in 1962.
"He's grown so much over the years, just in his expression and his ability to communicate, his willingness to communicate," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said last month. "He knows a lot about the game. I joke with him, he didn't teach me anything when we played together. He's teaching me more things now I'm managing him."
Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson, former Cleveland and Seattle manager Eric Wedge, San Francisco bench coach Hensley Meulens, former big league third baseman Aaron Boone and Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward previously interviewed.
Beltran prepared for his interview by asking Omar Minaya, the general manager who signed him for the New York Mets, what questions he should expect. Beltran cited Terry Collins as a manager he admired — Collins started with the Mets during Beltran's final season in Queens.
Like all manager candidates these days, Beltran venerated analytics.
"I have seen the Yankees really invest a lot of money in analytics and try to provide the players information that they could use to try to increase their careers," he said. "When I look at my career, I look at my 20 years that I played in the big leagues, I personally feel that out of those 20 years, I played naked in a lot of them because I didn't have all this information."
While Beltran prides his ability to connect with players — a trait Cashman is seeking — he understands his interactions with them as manager would change.
"Being able to have a good relationship with the guys and being able to have truthful conversations at the same time being the manager is a different responsibility," he said, "so I think that will be the way where I will be focused the most."
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