Number 21: Carlos Delgado

Special For Puerto Rico The Daily Sun

When the Hiram Bithorn Stadium announcer will make the call over the public speakers, now batting Number 21 first baseman Carlos Delgado, no doubt will be Puerto Rico’s call of the year. For over 25,000 expected crowd against Panama the place should be rocking. Will be chilling and  hair-rising. And possibly the bells will toll in heaven.

“Obviously being in Puerto Rico and wearing number 21 in the back of my jersey represent the name of Roberto Clemente. It is a great honor. I’m quite flattered that the Clemente family gave me that honor to wear his number”, Delgado said.

“As a Puerto Rican I understand Clemente’s legacy and his very much alive specially in Puerto Rico. It’s going to have an important meaning. I will just go out there and carry me professionally and play the game”, Delgado added.

For the 16-year career major leaguer he pointed out March 7 will be an unforgettable day.

Besides wearing the iconic number it will be Delgado’s first real showcase in the World Baseball Classic. Even though he was a member of the 2006 inaugural team he suffered an injury that limited him to watch the games from the bench.

“Last time (2006) was frustrating to me because I got hurt just before coming to Puerto Rico.  I did not have the opportunity to be healthy enough to compete out. I only have one at bat”, Delgado said.

“This year is different. This year I’m healthy. Everything is OK to me and I’m looking forward to be a big part of this team and contribute”, Delgado added. “I’m very excited. It’s an honor to represent your country specially  in front of all Puerto Rico. It’s one of those once opportunities in our lives to have to be part of Team Puerto Rico in 2009”.

Delgado, 37, admitted no matter all past moments with the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets this is a different situation and his ready to put a great show.

The two-time All Star pointed that if every teammate “put his two cents” that will lead to a great performance and very possibly a lead to a final four appearance in this Classic.

The Aguadilla native also pointed his other dream for this season is to finally go to a World Series. And believes this year will be finally New York Mets time.

“We are going to have a great club. I think we address some of the issues during the offseason. I’m sure we are going to be a solid team”, Delgado said.

Delgado pointed out that the Mets have a solid offensive talent and a great core of starters and a great relief staff with Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz.

Delgado pointed out that his focus right now is in the world tourney. Specially this could be due to his age his last World Baseball Classic. Delgado pointed he does not want to think about it though he is very aware he have to stay healthy for years to come specially when his offensive numbers are showing a possible run for the Hall of Fame.

“This is something out of my control. I’m planning to play a few more years. Hopefully we can add up to those numbers and at the end the people that have that say they recognize what I have done. It will be a tremendous honor”. I’m  just concern and focus in 2009 and have a great year”, Delgado said.

EXTRA: Carlos Delgado agreed Number 21 should be retire overall by Major League Baseball. “Clemente was an ambassador not only fo puerto ricans but also to all latin american players”, Delgado said. “I think it will be a great for baseball”.

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