Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran will make his first World Series appearance… (Charlie Riedel / Associated…)
BOSTON — When the World Series opens Wednesday, the Fox cameras figure to focus on outfielder Carlos Beltran. His is the most emotional of all the story lines involving the St. Louis Cardinals, as he makes the first World Series appearance of his 16-year career.
Beltran said Tuesday that he sympathized with Torii Hunter, the Detroit Tigers outfielder denied what would have been his first World Series in a 17-year career.
Hunter, 38, has lost in each of his three trips to the American League championship series — with the Tigers this year, with the Angels in 2009 and with the Minnesota Twins in 2002.
"He's a guy that's been in the league for a long time," Beltran said. "To be so close and not be able to get to this point, I know how it feels. Next year, they'll have another good ballclub in Detroit. Maybe next year he'll have an opportunity."
Beltran played 2,064 regular-season games before his first World Series appearance. The only active major leaguers to play in more games without a World Series trip are Hunter (2,091) and Miguel Tejada (2,171).
"This is the best thing ever for a ballplayer," Beltran said. "You dream about it. You don't know if it's ever going to happen. It's a big blessing from God."
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said he had not spoken with Adrian Gonzalez since he accused the Dodgers first baseman of "Mickey Mouse" antics during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
Wainwright, the Cardinals' starter in Game 1 against the Red Sox, said he meant his comments "in jest" and said that he had been trying to dodge questions about Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers' rookie who had paused to admire what he thought would be a home run that never actually left the park.
"The whole intent of that interview was to get me to say something bad about Puig," Wainwright said.
Wainwright alleged Gonzalez heckled him from third base. Gonzalez claimed he was simply shouting back to third-base coach Tim Wallach that he knew what to do if Wainwright threw a wild pitch.
"It spun out of control," Wainwright said. "But that's playoff baseball. If you don't want something to happen, don't say knuckle-headed things like that."
Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava and Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso were teammates at Mountain View (Calif.) St. Francis High. Descalso was a two-way threat, posting a 25-6 record as a pitcher in three seasons as the Lancers' ace. "To get two guys to this point, you can't beat it," said St. Francis Coach Chris Bradford, who plans to attend Games 3 and 4 in St. Louis. "The faculty has been talking about it nonstop. It's a huge deal. … Boston's John Farrell and St. Louis' Mike Matheny are both managing their first World Series. That last happened in 2008, when Charlie Manuel of the Phillies and Joe Maddon of the Rays were managing their first World Series. … This is the third time in history that the World Series teams had identical records. Both were 97-65 in the regular season. It also happened in 1958 (Yankees and Braves, 92-62) and 1949 (Yankees and Dodgers, 97-57). … Mary J. Blige will sing the national anthem before Game 1.
Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Gonzalez and Hartford Courant reporter Paul Doyle contributed to this report.