Carlos Beltran entered Sunday night with 2,075 career games under his belt but exactly zero experience at first base.
The New York Yankees have been ravaged by injury this season, though, and when Francisco Cervelli came up limping during a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox, Beltran — a career outfielder — was pressed into service at first.
“There’s no tips, my friend,” Beltran said after the game (via NJ.com) about whether his teammates offered any advice on playing the new position. “That happens so fast you just got to go, man. The first inning, I was like, man, this game looks so fast. Then I calmed down and said, ‘Don’t think about it. Just go out and try the best you can.’”
An injury to usual starting first baseman Mark Teixeira has left the Yankees scrambling to find bodies to insert at the position. Even Cervelli, who started Sunday’s game before exiting in the fifth inning, had never played first in a major league game before this season.
Beltran, wearing Cervelli’s first baseman’s mitt, said it was the first time he’s ever not wanted a ball to come his way.
“No, no,” he said. “In the outfield, I want them to hit it to me. But, today, I was like, please, God, hit it somewhere else.”
The Red Sox obliged, and no hits came Beltran’s way during his three innings in the infield.
“That man is willing to do anything you ask him to do,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Whether you put him some place he’s never been or you move him in the order, he just asks to play. He wants to contribute. That’s what I’ve learned. It’s very, very unselfish.”
Boston utilized an unorthodox infield of its own for a few frames, with Mike Carp making his first career appearance at third base after pinch-hitting for Ryan Roberts.