CINCINNATI -- Following Tuesday night's 8-6 victory over the Reds, Carlos Beltran invited his Mets teammates out for a late dinner at a local steakhouse. All but a handful of Mets players attended; Beltran picked up the tab.
Save for a few jokes, no one questioned the occasion. No one needed to.
"I think he saw the writing on the wall," pitcher R.A. Dickey said.
Less than a day later, Beltran was well on his way to becoming a member of the Giants. Though details of the deal were not expected to be finalized until Thursday, Beltran reported to Great American Ball Park on Wednesday evening to address his teammates and collect his belongings, leaving the premises before the first pitch.
So ended his 6 1/2-year tenure with the Mets, memorable for reasons at both extremes of the baseball spectrum.
"We've experienced a little bit of good and quite a bit of bad," said third baseman David Wright, who has played almost his entire big league career as Beltran's teammate. "From Day 1 that Carlos came in, he really tried to help the players around him."
So many Mets harped on that last bit, discussing -- and mostly lauding -- Beltran's impact on the team's younger players. A quiet leader, Beltran often sought out his teammates to provide hitting tips, advice and even one-on-one tutorials in the batting cage.
"He's one of my best friends on the team," said shortstop Jose Reyes, the longest-tenured Met. "He's the guy who always helped me out, talked to me all the time. When things did not go so good for me, he's the guy that came to my locker and talked to me."
From an on-field perspective, the Mets will be hard-pressed to replace the production of Beltran, who was leading their offense in home runs, walks, RBIs, on-base percentage and -- amazingly, considering his health issues in recent years -- games played. From a clubhouse perspective, the team will look to Wright, Reyes, Jason Isringhausen and others to fill the void. But Beltran's presence will continue to be felt.
"Here's a guy that does nothing but shows up every day, goes out, plays his game, plays very, very well, knows how to take care of himself, knows when to back off," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "If you have any ideas about wanting to play that long, you'd better watch and see what those guys do. Because there's nobody that's a better example of how to take care of yourself."
Most Mets echoed similar sentiments upon learning that Beltran had been traded.
"He's just a very complete individual, not only on the field but off," Dickey said. "It's kind of sad."
"We'll be rooting for Carlos," Wright said.
Some Mets understood the reasons for the trade, others offered well wishes to Beltran, and still others focused solely on the immediate impact for the Mets. Regardless of their views, as Beltran's teammates spoke, the outfielder's batting-practice jersey remained hung in his locker as an inescapable reminder of the news. Several gestured in that direction, thinking back on their final dinner with Beltran, the timing of which could not have been more prophetic.
"People were joking about that, that he was going to get traded," Reyes said. He paused. "But we were just kidding."