Word around the baseball world following Carlos Beltran's retirement Monday, after 20 magnificent seasons, is that Beltran will make a great manager some day.
Industry insiders cite Beltran's baseball acumen and his ability to communicate with young players, who often revere him, as two of his strengths. In this vein, Astros pitching coach Brent Strom recalled a story Tuesday on MLB Network Radio that spoke to these attributes.
Strom has known Beltran since the former outfielder's days as a young player in Kansas City, where Strom took one of his first pitching-coach gigs. The two were reunited this past season in Houston, where Beltran finished his playing career with a World Series championship.
Beltran was so respected by the younger Astros that "the pitchers would listen to him more than they would me," Strom said, specifically when it came to telegraphing pitches.
Beltran has long been known as one of the game's best at recognizing when pitchers are tipping their pitches. It's part of why he enjoyed such a successful career at the plate, and why teammates love having him in the dugout. This World Series was no different.
"He wore me out," Strom said, laughing. "He wore me out telling me how my pitchers are tipping. It finally got to the point where I said, 'I know. I know.' He really helped me a great deal with Lance McCullers Jr. and Chris Devenski and everybody. It's really frustrating sitting there, watching your pitcher, and he's whispering in my ear that a changeup is coming. And there it was. Or a curveball is coming, and there it was."
Strom credited Beltran with helping turn around the performance of Houston's bullpen, which struggled for some of the series but also came up huge in spots -- especially in Game 3 and Game 7.
"I was just hoping the other team wasn't picking it up," Strom said about his pitchers tipping. "[Beltran] really helped me a great deal in that aspect. He actually forced me, and his credibility is such that the pitchers would listen to him more than they would me. We made some appropriate changes, hopefully in time, to curtail the tipping. There is so much of it going on because pitchers are creatures of habit. We have a tendency to go through the routine we go through and we don't even realize we're doing it. He was great. This was a leader. Between him and Brian McCann, it was really what this team needed.
"We were good the last couple of years," Strom said. "But we didn't have anybody like McCann or Beltran come in and guide the young guys."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.