Beltran helps open Puerto Rico goodwill tour

Event draws MLB stars in humanitarian spirit of Clemente

Beltran helps open Puerto Rico goodwill tour

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- New Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran stood on the stage in front of a packed ballroom in one of the nicest hotels on the island, pointed at Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and smiled.

"Everyone give a hand to Lindor for the great job he did in the World Series and for representing all of us in Puerto Rico," Beltran said. "Clap for Sandy Alomar Jr., too. He's a coach for the Indians. We call him the baseball thief because he's always watching for the other team's signs. He's meant so much to Puerto Rico. All of you have."

Beltran's words in the private reception marked the official start of the Puerto Rico goodwill tour "Peloteros por Puerto Rico." The event, spearheaded by the Major League Baseball Players Association in conjunction with Major League Baseball, is designed to spotlight Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and his humanitarian efforts while celebrating baseball legends and promoting the development of baseball in Puerto Rico.

"This is important because we are honoring our hero Roberto Clemente, the kind of humanitarian he was on and off the field," Beltran said. "The Players Association has done a great job. They wanted to bring all of these players to Puerto Rico to bring the island a little bit of joy."

The list of players in Puerto Rico this week reads like a Who's Who of Major League Baseball. Rays pitcher Chris Archer was among the first to arrive on the island, as was Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana. All three stood motionless as Beltran delivered the heartfelt message of gratitude while video from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy played in the background. Tampa Bay closer Alex Colome and former Major Leaguer Tom Walker, the father of Mets second baseman Neil Walker and a former winter-ball teammate of Clemente, watched from their seats with other baseball dignitaries.

"My role is simple: I believe that you have to share what you have learned in the game of baseball," Beltran said. "I've been blessed and I thank God for that every single day. The fact that I am still playing baseball has given me the opportunity to help the other guys. I get a lot of satisfaction in understanding and knowing that I can impact a player in a positive way."

On Friday, Nationals reliever Oliver Perez and new D-backs closer Fernando Rodney are expected to join the group of big leaguers to conduct a youth baseball clinic at Roberto Clemente Stadium in nearby Carolina. Another baseball clinic at Manuel Gonzalez Stadium in Salinas is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. A gala honoring baseball in Puerto Rico is scheduled for Saturday night.

"As Puerto Ricans, we have gone through tough times, but at the end the day, the game of baseball brings a lot of joy to our fans and to our countries," Beltran said. "When I look at the young players that represent us in the United States it brings me a lot of joy knowing that the future of Puerto Rico looks bright. Having guys like [Carlos] Correa, Lindor, [Javier] Baez and [Eddie] Rosario. When I look at those guys, I don't just see good ballplayers. Those guys have the potential to be superstar type of players in the big leagues."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.