Beltre: Retirement decision not easy, but it’s not a sad day
Walking toward the interview room at Globe Life Park on Friday morning, a reporter half-quipped that it felt like she was walking into a funeral.
And, indeed, there were remembrances of Adrian Beltre everywhere, from oversized photos to the lineup card from his 3,000th-hit game to some of his baseball equipment.
His former Texas Rangers teammates from as far back as his first season with them poured into the room, along with teammates from his final season.
Everyone was being so quiet.
And, then, after Beltre entered the room, a video was shown and some memories were shared, the now-retired Beltre let his guard down and let the good times roll.
Beltre never had what he called “sweaty eyes” during more than 40 minutes of a going-away news conference. He left the impression, with some of what he said and with his swift exit stage left, that he might not be seen for a while.
Hey, he’s retired. He can do whatever he wants, but he’s certainly not saddened about his decision to leave the game after 21 seasons.
“I didn’t expect to be emotional because I’m really happy with what I am doing,” Beltre said. “Maybe in two weeks, maybe in March or February, it’s going to hit me, but as of right now, I don’t have any other thoughts about what I’m doing.”
Beltre admitted that he probably knew he was going to retire after he was injured for the second time in 2018. He left the season finale at Seattle saying he wasn’t sure if he would retire, but he knew otherwise.
He didn’t call general manager Jon Daniels until Nov. 19 because he was waiting to see if the urge to get ready for a 22nd season would hit him.
“I heard that baseball players before they decide to retire, they get an itch about wanting to come back,” Beltre said. “I was waiting for that, but I didn’t get it. I was pretty sure I was going to retire. I was just wanting to make sure. I don’t have any second thoughts about what I’m doing.”
It’s not that he doesn’t believe he can’t play the game, and he showed in September that he can by hitting eight home runs. But he doesn’t want to endure another injury-plagued season like the final two of his career.
He was on the disabled list four times the past two seasons and avoided two other stints because there is no real need for the DL once rosters expand Sept. 1.
“I did not want to deal with another year like that,” Beltre said. “When I’m injured, I’m not a happy camper. It’s one of the things I hate the most.”
He also didn’t like discussing his career accomplishments, the most significant of which are the 3,166 hits he amassed. That ranks 15th all-time and eight all-time among right-handed hitters.
Beltre finishes his career with 477 home runs (30th all time), 636 doubles (11th) and 1,707 doubles (21st) in 2,933 games (14th). He ranks first in MLB history in hits by a third baseman and hits by a player from Latin America.
He is also one of only four players with at least 3,166 hits and 477 homers. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray are the others, and they are all in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Beltre said that he isn’t ready to think about taking his place in Cooperstown and won’t give it too much thought until his name first appears on the ballot in five years.
“I just don’t want to be caught up in thinking about stuff I can’t handle,” he said. “It’s not my decision to make. If they decide that, fine. If not, I’m not going to miss any sleep over it.”
Among the faces in the crowd were Michael Young, who was the brunt of a Beltre joke. When asked if there was any job in baseball Beltre might consider, he quickly said Young’s job as a special assistant to the GM.
Young was involved in the decision to hire Chris Woodward as manager, but also is able to keep his foot in the baseball door without having to sacrifice significant family time. Hey, he’s retired and can do whatever he wants.
“Right now I don’t see myself coaching or managing, nothing like that,” Beltre said. “I don’t think I have the patience and I don’t think I have the knowledge. Don’t want to invest the time. As I said, Michael Young’s job would be perfect.”
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was also in attendance, and Beltre saved a few zingers for him, too. It was fitting after all the on-field and in-dugout antics they pulled together.
“I didn’t want to say it publicly, but another main reason that I retired was when he decided not to take the opt-out,” Beltre said. “When I knew he was coming back, I was like ‘Oh yeah. This is it. I can’t take another minute.’”
Several of Beltre’s 2018 teammates watched the presser, along with past teammates Ian Kinser, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish. They laughed right along with Beltre and quickly followed him out the door.
No one’s sure when they will see Beltre again. That includes him.
“I think I want to get away from baseball for a little bit,” he said. “I don’t know how long.”
But his exit Friday sure was grand. And, like his career, fun to watch.