Adrian Beltre never flinched.
Not when he’d stand 100 feet away at third base with a right-hander digging into the batter’s box. Not when ailments and injuries could have kept him out of the lineup. Not when the Gold Glove awards were handed out year after year with no mention of his name.
Tuesday, Beltre finally got what his manager says is long overdue, the American League Gold Glove.
“He’s got great ability, he’s athletic, he’s got a strong arm, he’s fearless, he’s got a passion for the game,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “You name it, it’s there. I’m so happy for him.”
Mariners center fielder Ichiro Suzuki also won a Gold Glove, his seventh straight to tie his Japanese record of seven in a row. The awards were based on voting by major league managers and coaches.
“This is a special award for me because I made the change from right field to center field,” said Suzuki, who played his first full major league season in center field in 2007.
In winning his first Gold Glove, Beltre said he was shocked when McLaren called Tuesday morning with the news.
“To be a Gold Glover, that is every defender’s goal,” Beltre said. “I wasn’t expecting or waiting for it to happen because there is a lot of competition in the American League.”
Beltre’s award was the result of justice finally coming his way, McLaren said. Oakland’s Eric Chavez won the AL award at third base the past six years but was injured much of this season.
Often, it takes strong offensive numbers to sway Gold Glove voters, which aided Chavez.
Beltre, however, was snubbed even after his monster offensive season with the Dodgers in 2004, when he batted .334, led the majors with 48 home runs and drove in 121 runs. He made only 10 errors that year and finished with a .978 fielding percentage. Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen who had a .977 fielding percentage, 34 homers, 124 RBI and a .314 average, won the NL Gold Glove.
“I wouldn’t call it disappointment, but in 2004 I thought I played well enough to win the award,” he said. “In my opinion, that was the best I’ve played defensively. But those things happen. You just keep showing up and working hard and try to get better each day.”
This wasn’t one of Beltre’s better defensive years statistically _ he made 18 errors and his .958 fielding percentage was 10th in the league. But he batted .276, hit 26 home runs, 41 doubles and drove in 99 runs, strong numbers that certainly helped. He also furthered his reputation for making spectacular plays with his range, his soft hands and his strong arm.
“There are two sides to my game and I work hard to be my best at both,” Beltre said. “I think I enjoy defense the most. There are not a lot of mechanics involved, you just get out there and let your instincts and all the hard work you’ve put in take over.”
Perlozzo hired: The Mariners filled their final coaching vacancy Tuesday, hiring Sam Perlozzo as third base coach. He’ll also be responsible for infield play.
Perlozzo, 56, was fired in June as the Baltimore Orioles’ manager, a job he’d held since midway through the 2005 season. He coached third base for the Mariners from 1993-95, when McLaren was the bench coach.
“Sam is a good friend and we’ve worked together a lot,” McLaren said. “He’s got a history in Seattle, he knows the American League and he’s a very knowledgeable baseball man.”
Of note: The Mariners and FSN Northwest announced Tuesday that at least 150 games will be televised in 2008. The only games that won’t be televised are those that conflict with baseball’s national telecasts. FSN also said a majority of the games in 2008 will be televised in high definition, and that a Spanish-language audio feed of all home games would be available in 2008. … Adam Jones, who is expected to start in the Mariners’ outfield next season, was named to the Topps Triple-A postseason All-Star team. He batted .314 and had a .586 slugging percentage this year for the Tacoma Rainiers.