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 picks the brain of Cora, who won the 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 the most difficult market and dealing with owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon.
“This is something he earned, '' Cora told The Post on Friday, noting he hadn't gotten any official word of Beltran's hiring that was made official by the Mets later in the day. “He has made adjustments throughout a guy who was quiet to all of a sudden is eager to share information and talk to players, coaches, and front office people.
“ Throughout this process, there was talking a lot. Carlos did his homework. He is ready 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 he 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 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 it. He called and said, 'I know it all; "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 evolve ̵
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 are guys who have paid their dues in the minor leagues and they are great at the big league level. There are guys who pay their dues a different way, in a different arena and have 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 even though 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's something we took when we were all together in '17. You could see the difference of having Carlos on the board made with the Yankees in the details. ''
In London this July, Cora was quick to credit Beltran, a special counsel, for helping Yankees hitters recognize the 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 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 is not easy, "" he said of Beltran winning over GM Brodie Van Wagenen and ownership. “It says about five tools and go dominant 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 for the past two years, he's one of my biggest supporters and I'm 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 the sudden we have four who have Puerto Rican roots, '' Cora said, noting the World Nationals champion Dave Martinez and Toronto's Charlie Montoyo. And [Joe] Espada is coming, too. There are four out of 30 and this island is 110 by 35 miles. It is a testament to the culture of the Little League all the way to the 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're playing, if we're 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.