Carlos Beltran's first of three seasons with the Yankees has been a struggle. Well, it didn't start out that way, as the switch-hitter hit .298/.339/.614 in his first 15 games of the season. In his 16th game, though, Beltran, trying to catch a foul ball, flipped over the short wall in foul territory at Tropicana Field. He continued to hit in the few games that followed, but he hit the skids pretty hard (.405 OPS) in 14 games after that. A bone spur in his right elbow was revealed in mid-May, keeping him out of action for three weeks. Since then, Beltran has returned, but unfortunately his bat has picked up right where it left off prior to the injury.
To be exact, in just eight games since returning from the bone spur injury, Beltran is hitting a very weak .129/.156/.194, all three figures of which are below his weight of 210 lbs. Also, because of the bone spur in his right throwing arm, Beltran has been exclusively used as a designated hitter. He's practically unusable in the outfield, but at least it'd be nice to just have him try to fake it out there so the DH spot can be open for others like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira (when healthy), Brian McCann, etc. to give them half-days when needed. Instead, Beltran is creating a black hole at the DH spot at the moment.
Even with the bone spur scare, Beltran admits that his struggles are more timing-related than they are due to said bone spur: "I've still got to go through BP and go to the cage and continue to work," Beltran told Chad Jennings of LoHud. "Physically I feel fine. It's just more timing, more kind of being in between and sometimes feeling for the baseball; not taking my full swings. Things like that."
Obviously Beltran is going to say his struggles are more timing-related than they are due to his bone spur; he wouldn't be playing if the bone spur were still bothering him, but his excuse is still valid. Three missed weeks with only a small handful of extended spring training games mixed in is no way to keep your timing at the plate. Still, with McCann still not hitting, Alfonso Soriano looking just about finished for good, and Yangervis Solarte slumping the past month, to go along with other offensive shortcomings, it'd sure be nice if Beltran could start hitting again like he did at the beginning of the season.
Despite his long slump, I'm sure Beltran will snap out of it and start hitting again. I'd be pretty shocked if he continued his Vernon Wells-esque slide for the rest of the season, considering this is a guy who has hit his entire career and was on fire to start the year. But for someone who the Yankees forked over three years, $45 million and a draft pick for, the team better hope this isn't a sign of things to come in just year one. Beltran was signed to be the middle-of-the-order switch-hitter with pop, and Yankees will need him to go back to being that presence in the heart of the order for an offense-starved club.