In his first trip back to Kaufman Stadium since he was a member of the Royals, Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran is trying to make nice with his former fans.
He told mlb.com that he wanted to stay in Kansas City. But he said the Royals never made him a firm contract extension offer. Instead, the Royals traded Beltran to Houston where he nearly knocked the Redbirds out of the 2004 playoffs before skedaddling as a free agent to the Mets.
"When it happened, I cried," Beltran said of being sent out of Kansas City. "Because I was emotional. I signed with the Royals, I had many years in that organization. But at the end of the day, those types of moments make you stronger as a person and make you understand a little more than the game of baseball and how things happen. Baseball is a business. Big Business.
I'll be interested to see how Beltran is received as a visiting player in Kansas City. He, in many ways, was the crown jewel in the group of players that the Royals developed and then let get away. And fans were bemoaning his loss two years before he departed the Royals clubhouse.
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When asked how he thought Kansas City fans would greet him he didn't offer a guess.
"No idea," Beltran said. "But, you know what? I've been through a lot of places -- like when I go to Houston, they boo me there like crazy. And in New York, it's cheers and boos. So, I'm not really going to focus on that. I just want to be at the ballpark and play the game."
For his career, Beltran is a .299 hitter at Kaufman Stadium with 60 homers in 403 games.
Of all of the ballparks he's called home over the years, Busch Stadium III is where Beltran has hit the best. He's a .363 hitter with 16 homers in 44 games at the Redbirds' home since 2006. In Houston Beltran hit .236 with 11 homers in 67 games, at Shea Stadium he was a .267 hitter with 47 homers in 301 games and at Citi .283 with 15 homers in 114 games.