Beltran shies from Pence comparison, expects 'crazy' fans

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Beltran shies from Pence comparison, expects 'crazy' fans

SAN FRANCISCO -- Perennial All Star Carlos Beltran has a unique perspective on the upcoming NLCS between the Giants and Cardinals after spending the second half of last year in San Francisco before signing as a free agent with St. Louis in the offseason.

You might think his familiarity with the Giants organization would give him the upper hand.

"C'mon, no," Beltran brushed away the notion. "You still have to out there and play the games."

The Giants gave up blue-chip pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to acquire Beltran less than three months before he entered free agency. (Wheeler was elevated from Double-A to Triple-A in the Mets organization this year, and went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 25 combined starts.) But Beltran doesn't have any particular message for Giants fans who were upset that the front office didn't make a move to bring him back.

"I made it clear before the (2011) season was over that I was willing to come back," Beltran reiterated Saturday. "Yes, I had a good time (with the Giants), I really enjoyed the opportunity. I think this organization is always taking the right steps to try to put a good team out there and win. I stayed in the offseason and they never called. But as a player I have to make my move."

The move was to the defending world champions, where Beltran signed a two-year, 26 million contract.

If the Giants gave Beltran an extension, the chances that they acquire Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline are none.

Beltran avoided a direct comparison with Pence.

"It's hard for me to talk about myself, so I will talk about him," Beltran opted. "I believe he is a good ballplayer. He shows a lot of emotions, a lot of energy in the field. He does everything hard. And I believe since the time he was acquired from Philadelphia he did a good job for the organization. So they should be proud of him."

In reality, Giants fans are more proud of the source of inspiration Pence has provided, rather than his on-field production. Pence's 4-for-20 (.200) NLDS with no runs or RBIs pales in comparison to Beltran's monster series. The seven-time All Star, three-time Gold Glover and two-time Silver Slugger was 8-for-18 (.444) with two home runs, two doubles, four RBIs and five runs scored.

Not surprisingly, Beltran is picking himself over Pence in right field.

"I'm always going to believe in myself," Beltran explained diplomatically. "I believe we will (both) go out there and do well, but our production won't mean anything if the rest of the guys don't play well."

No matter how the rest of the guys play, their respect for Beltran is steadfast, especially that of his former New York teammate and Giants centerfielder Angel Pagan.

"He's my mentor," Pagan said. "Any time I had a question or anything I went to him. I always want to get better, even if it's the last day of my career. And he's such a good hitter and such a great guy."

Direct comparisons between Pence and Beltran will be made, but the only thing that really matters is the outcome of the games.

RELATED: Carlos Beltran stats Hunter Pence stats
Health shouldn't affect Beltran's impact on those games; the 35-year old missed time with the Giants last year with an injured right hand and will play the rest of his career on a right knee that has little cartilage after multiple surgeries. With his knee brace sitting idle in his locker, Beltran announced Saturday he feels completely healthy.

"It's going to be a fun one," Beltran said of the 2012 National League Championship Series. "That's no doubt. This place is going to be packed. Fans are crazy about baseball here."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also has ties with the Giants after catching for San Francisco in 2005 and '06. The former Willie Mac Award winner also foresees a good series, though he's not ready to cast it as "fun" just yet.

"I see a knock-down, drag out."

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.”