Astros vets saw birth of baby Bombers

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Hawkins

Car­los Bel­tran and Brian McCann spent most of the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons as team­mates with the New York Yan­kees, and while there got to see the birth of those baby Bronx Bombers they will now face in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

“It is a lit­tle crazy,” said McCann, the 33-year-old catcher who was traded by the Yan­kees to Hous­ton last win­ter. “But when I was be­hind the scenes and got to see these young guys play, per­form and the way (Aaron) Judge came out this year, it’s no sur­prise they’re in the po­si­tion they’re in.”

Bel­tran and McCann are now two of the old guys for another team with plenty of tal­ented youth — the Astros. Both veterans hope for another shot to fi­nally win a World Se­ries ring.

Game 1 of the best-of-7 ALCS is Fri­day night Hous­ton.

Much of the rea­son that New York was able to let go of McCann was another young slug­ger, 24-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez (33 homers this sea­son, 53 in 177 ca­reer games). Judge, the 6-foot-7 rookie right fielder, hit an AL-best 52 homers this year.

Bel­tran, the 40-year-old des­ig­nated hit­ter in his 20th big league sea­son, ad­mits that he was a bit sur­prised at how quickly in the young­sters de­vel­oped.

“It’s good to watch, it’s very re­fresh­ing to watch,” said Bel­tran, who was sent from New York to Texas at the trade dead­line last sum­mer and then re­turned to Hous­ton in free agency.

Many have cred­ited Bel­tran with hav­ing a big im­pact on Didi Gre­go­rius, the short­stop who suc­ceeded Derek Jeter and home­red twice in the ALDS clincher, the Yan­kees’ 5-2 Game 5 vic­tory Wed­nes­day night af­ter los­ing the first two games of that se­ries to Cleve­land.

“I’m happy for him, and I’m also happy for Judge and Gary Sanchez and the younger guys. They have been able to go out there and per­form,” Bel­tran said. “I was the guy who pro­vided that lit­tle bit of in­for­ma­tion for (Gre­go­rius on ad­just­ments). I don’t take credit for that. He’s the one who did it.”

Bel­tran has been in 58 ca­reer play­off games for five dif­fer­ent teams. He got to the World Se­ries once, in 2013 with the St. Louis Car­di­nals when they lost to the Bos­ton Red Sox in six games. He was part of a seven-game NLCS loss with Hous­ton in 2004 af­ter be­ing traded from Kansas City to the thenNa­tional League Astros dur­ing that sea­son.

The only play­off game Bel­tran and McCann had with the Yan­kees was a loss to the Astros in the 2015 AL wild card game.

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