The Yankees welcomed back a couple old friends on Thursday night, as Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann returned to the Bronx with the streaking Astros.
Of course, both sported facial hair, a clear no-no in New York.
“Hey, what’s with that beard?” Joe Girardi joked to McCann behind the batting cage.
“You hitting third today?” McCann joked to his favorite Yankee teammate, Brett Gardner, who had the evening off against fierce lefty Dallas Keuchel.
Previously told that Gardner (six) had hit more homers than him to date this season, McCann (five) replied, “We’ll see about that.”
Beltran and McCann were both traded as part of what was thought to be a rebuild. But the Yankees have exceeded expectations to date, with many of their young guys playing a big role in their surprising start to 2017.
“I think the experience of being through that situation before allowed me to understand,” said Beltran, who got dealt to the Rangers at the 2016 trade deadline after hitting 22 homers and producing an .890 OPS in 99 games with the Yankees.
“I had a good conversation with Brian Cashman. He needed to do whatever was best for the team. And at the end of the day, they did a good job. They traded a lot of guys and got a lot of good players in return. The future looks bright for the Yankees. And with the way they’ve been playing now, it’s fun. It’s fun for the city to have a young team out there playing good baseball.”
Added McCann, who was dealt to Houston in November after Gary Sanchez went on his 20-homer, 53-game tear as a rookie: “I wanted to catch every day. I knew it wasn’t going to happen there. It was a perfect fit for both sides. So I get to come here and play with a bunch of great players and Gary Sanchez gets to step in and play every day.”
The Yankees acquired prospects Dillon Tate, Nick Green and Erik Swanson for Beltran and prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman for McCann. Beltran had expressed a desire to return to the Bronx as a free agent in the offseason, but the Yankees went in a different direction. Beltran wound up getting a one-year, $ 16 million deal with the Astros.
“I thought about it,” said Beltran, whose family is still here. “But they had other priorities. They were trying to sign Aroldis Chapman. But I also felt that, as a player, Houston was a good choice. I got the opportunity to play against these guys when I was with the Rangers a little bit so I know this team is super young and talented also. It’s kind of similar to the Yankees.”
The Yankees landed Beltran ($ 45 million), McCann ($ 85 million), Jacoby Ellsbury ($ 153 million) and Masahiro Tanaka ($ 155 million) in the winter before the 2014 season. But the Yankees were able to play in just one wildcard-playoff game in three years with that group.
“I’m happy to be back, happy to see my family,” Beltran said. “Today was a good day for me. I got to wake up with my kids and pick them up at school. It was a fun day to come back.”