Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 6/25/13
ST. LOUIS -- Whenever Cardinals manager Mike Matheny works out before games, which is often, he uses the same weight room as his players at Busch Stadium. One player whom he sees regularly is Carlos Beltran who, at 36, is hitting more like he did at 26. "Watch him in the weight room and you know it's not just by chance," Matheny says. "He's doing a lot to stay in the shape he's in." The Cardinals believe more down time has helped Beltran stay more consistent through the first half. At this point last season, he had missed only three games. This year, he has already sat seven games and has come off the bench in three others. Being another year removed from knee issues hasn't hurt, either. After spending much of last season hitting cleanup behind Matt Holliday, Beltran also seems to be benefiting from hitting second, in the spot ahead of Holliday. And most players always are more comfortable in their second season after switching teams. But ask Beltran how he's turning back the clock and he shrugs. "I feel good, man, physically I feel good," he says. Really. It's as simple as good health? "I'm not coming to the ballpark thinking about this bothering me, or that bothering me," he says. "When you come to the ballpark like that, it's harder. You are thinking about what you can do to survive, to get through that day. That mentality is a grind. It takes away a lot from your game when you're not healthy." His good health has produced robust numbers. Beltran went into Tuesday night's game at Houston with 17 homers and a .305 batting average, both among the best in the National League. He also leads NL outfielders in fan balloting for the All-Star Game, which will be played in his old stomping grounds in Queens. A trip to the All-Star Game would be his eighth in 16 big league seasons. Beltran admits to making one change this season that has helped his game. "Only thing is I'm a little more consistent with my strengthening program," he says. "I'm making sure I do my legs three times a week but other than that, everything is basically the same as last year." Perhaps Beltran is downplaying his success because he knows the season is not even half over. As well as he has played this year, he was even better to this point last year. After the Cardinals' first 76 games in 2012, Beltran was hitting .312 with 20 homers and 59 RBIs. Then came July and August, when Beltran hit only .206 and his overall average dropped to .266. He would bounce back some in September to finish the regular season at .269 with 32 homers. "I understand there's going to be a month where you probably don't do well. This game is about ups and downs," he says. "For these first three months, I feel like I've been doing my job consistently. I'm doing my part. I like that." If Beltran's ups continue to outweigh the downs in the second half, he will be in position to land another multi-year deal. But with Matt Adams looking ready and top prospect Oscar Taveras on the way, the Cardinals aren't likely to offer Beltran another 26 million, two-year contract. They figure to go no more than one year, and that would be expected to come in the way of a qualifying offer (which would secure the Cardinals a first-round draft pick if he signed with another team). While Beltran says he would like to stay with the Cardinals, he hasn't been approached by general manager John Mozeliak and he's been around St. Louis long enough to size up the situation. Beltran won't say how much longer he hopes to play in the majors, but the way he's going, it's safe to assume he has at least a couple of more years in him. "He's at an age where you anticipate plateauing off," Matheny says. "But he just seems to keep getting better. It's been incredible." "I don't want to say how many more years I want to play because who knows," Beltran says. "Anything can change. But right now, I'm happy. And I'm happy things are going well." No matter what the reason. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Some coaches expect Tom Brady to 'dramatically age’ in 2017

Cavs reportedly wanted to sign Rose before Irving trade request

Report: Whitehead changed his story to Cowboys multiple times

Report: Novak Djokovic could miss rest of season with elbow injury

Reggie Jackson praises, urges caution with Aaron Judge

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Panthers QB Cam Newton shows up to camp in best shape of career

Yankees progressing on deal to acquire Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso

Report: Derrick Rose was unwilling to accept bench role with Lakers

Stephen Strasburg expected to make next start for Nats

John Lackey makes history, hits four batters in one game

Report: Suns G Brandon Knight suffers torn ACL

The 'Kyrie revolts against the King' quiz

Every MLB team's best and worst deadline trade from the last 25 years

The most memorable moments from the class of 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees

BIG3 Ref Hotline Bling: James White slams the phone down

28 MLB trade deadline deal prospects since 2000 who went on to become All-Stars

Box Score 7/25: The pressure of the trade deadline is here

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

Best of Yardbarker: General managers take the spotlight

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Kyrie revolts against the King' quiz

BIG3 Ref Hotline Bling: James White slams the phone down

The 'When George Brett went completely batty' quiz

Finding the possible Achilles' heel for baseball’s best teams

Getaway Day: A pair of aces get lost in the shuffle

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker