No one in baseball knows Carlos Beltran better than Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Both men grew up in Puerto Rico, becoming close friends. They were teammates on the 2009-10 Mets. They won a World Series together with the Astros in 2017, Beltran’s final year in the majors, when Cora was the bench coach for Houston.
Beltran, 42, and Cora, 44, have spent a lot of time talking recently, with Beltran picking the brain of Cora, who won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018, his first year as manager.
Now Beltran joins Cora in the managerial ranks as he takes over the Mets, replacing Mickey Callaway. Cora knows Beltran is ready for such a test in a most difficult market and in dealing with owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon.
“This is something he earned,’’ Cora told The Post on Friday, noting he had not gotten any official word of Beltran’s hiring which was made official by the Mets later in the day. “He has made adjustments throughout from a guy who was quiet to all of a sudden is eager to share information and to talk to players, coaches and front office people.
“Throughout this process we’ve been talking a lot. Carlos did his homework. He prepared and he is ready to go. The Mets have someone who is going to impact that team in a different way.
“This guy, he will do an outstanding job.’’
Cora said it was special to be able to have Beltran reach out to him.
“I have a lot of friends throughout baseball, and the future Hall of Famer is the one that called me and we talked for hours about the process and how to prepare for this,’’ Cora said. “He was thirsty for information. That is a testament to him. He called and said, ‘I don’t know it all; you’ve got to help me out.’ I was happy to help him out.
“In this game you have to be on top of it because you have to evolve — that is the most important thing. I had him as a player in 2017 and we had long conversations. We had some radical ideas of how to do things to kind of prepare myself for what was coming. He would tell me things and I would share stuff with him on how to run a big league team. He helped me out a lot.’’
Cora is realistic about the depth of the challenge.
“Obviously there is the unknown,’’ Cora explained. “There was an unknown about me, an unknown about Mickey, an unknown about all the first-year guys in the history of the game. We all have different paths through the game, through this journey. There is not a perfect path.
“There have been guys who have paid their dues in the minor leagues and they are great at the big league level. There are guys who paid their dues in a different way, in a different arena and have done a good job like Boonie,’’ Cora said, referring to Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
“What Carlos brings is that he is able to recognize the temperature of the clubhouse — he’ll do an outstanding job with that, which is very important. I do believe that although he has not been on the bench [as a manager], being with [Brian Cashman and the Yankees this past year] will help him out. He pays attention to details. That is something that we took pride in when we were all together in ’17. You could see the difference having Carlos on board made with the Yankees in the details.’’
In London this July, Cora was quick to credit Beltran, a special adviser, for helping Yankees hitters recognize Red Sox pitches.
Cora points back to 1995 and the start of this journey. There were tryouts in Puerto Rico for the draft.
“There were 100 players and if you had to pick one to be a big league player, it was Carlos,’’ Cora said. “The physical attributes and the way he played the game.
“This one, for all his accomplishments, this one wasn’t easy,’’ he said of Beltran winning over GM Brodie Van Wagenen and ownership. “It wasn’t about five tools and go dominate on the field. This one is about earning the respect, the trust of the organization. I am very proud of him. He’s been great to me throughout the process the last two years, he’s one of my biggest supporters and I am one of his.’’
Cora worked closely with Mets VP and assistant GM Allard Baird in Boston in 2018 and said Baird will be a big help to Beltran.
The impact of managers from Puerto Rico grows. Beltran will have a homecoming when the Mets play the Marlins in Puerto Rico April 28-30.
“It’s amazing, we were talking about having no major league managers three years ago and now all of a sudden we have four who have Puerto Rican roots,’’ Cora said, noting the world champion Nationals’ Dave Martinez and Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo. “And [Joe] Espada is coming, too. To have four out of 30 and this island is 110 by 35 miles. It is a testament to the culture from Little League all the way to Legion to Connie Mack, they do an outstanding job teaching us the game.
“The other thing is they teach us to love the game and that is something that we wear on our sleeves on a daily basis, regardless if we are playing, if we are out of the playoffs, and just pulling for friends to become the next big thing at this level.’’
Cora believes Beltran will find that type of success as Mets manager.
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