Beltran: World Series win is 'what drives me'

Rangers veteran has .332 postseason average heading into ALDS

Beltran: World Series win is 'what drives me'

ARLINGTON -- Carlos Beltran, 39, is a free agent after the season. He is not ready to retire, but he doesn't know how many years he has left or where he will be playing next season.

Beltran does know that playing in the postseason doesn't get old.

"Of course not," Beltran said. "As a ballplayer, this is what you dream of … getting the opportunity to play meaningful games and win championships."

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Beltran will be in the postseason for the sixth time in his 19-year career when the Rangers open the American League Division Series at 3:30 p.m. CT on Thursday at Globe Life Park. The Rangers get a rematch of last year's ALDS with the Blue Jays, who beat the Orioles, 5-2, in Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game on Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off, three-run homer in the 11th inning.

But for Beltran, it's not about who the Rangers play as much as finally winning a World Series after coming close a number of times.

"It would mean a lot," Beltran said. "This is what drives me. I enjoy the game and I enjoy being around the young guys, passing on my experiences. But at the end of the day, the competition part drives me and the chance to win a world championship. Hopefully this is the year, but at the end of the day, you have to show up inside the line."

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Beltran's first postseason was in 2004 with the Astros. That was the year he hit eight postseason home runs, tying the record set by Barry Bonds in 2002, but the Astros lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the National League Championship Series.

Beltran was with the Mets in 2006 when they lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the NLCS, too. The Cards' 3-1 victory in Game 7 came to an end with him striking out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth -- after he had hit three home runs in the series.

Beltran was with the Cardinals when they lost to the Giants in the 2012 NLCS and the Red Sox in the '13 World Series, Beltran's only trip to the Fall Classic. He was with the Yankees in 2015 when they lost to the Astros in the AL Wild Card Game.

Beltran's spectacular catch

"When I got to the World Series with the Cardinals, I really felt we had a good team," Beltran said. "We just went cold. During the regular season, we played good baseball, but in the World Series, a lot of guys got cold. It happens. Some guys go cold in April, May or June, some in October. It happens. I was still grateful to be in the World Series."

Beltran still has an outstanding postseason record -- a .332 batting average, the second-highest all-time among players with a minimum of 50 games. His .674 slugging percentage is the highest, and his 16 home runs are ninth.

"There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in how he goes about his preparation," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "You look at his experience and the numbers, and you have to believe there is an extra sense of peace in how he prepares. The big stage and bright lights affects players differently, but when you have a wealth of success, transitioning that to other players is crucial. It's another nugget to be used."

Beltran steals second base

Beltran said he will still be nervous on Thursday.

"Of course, if you are not nervous on Thursday, you are not human," Beltran said. "I'm nervous throughout the regular season. That's normal. But once that goes away when the game starts, you're in control and you go back to being focused."

The focus this season is finally winning it all.

"Holding that trophy… that would have to be a good feeling," Beltran said. "I've never been there, but just thinking about it makes it exciting. It drives me."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.