Center fielder wouldn't be intimidated in New York

New York Mets: Carlos Beltran came away from Tuesday's meeting with Yankees brass impressed with owner George Steinbrenner and plans to meet with the Mets shortly, he told a newspaper in Puerto Rico. The race to sign the free-agent center fielder is heating up -- since the Astros must either sign him by Jan. 8 or lose negotiating rights with Beltran until May, he is likely to have a new home within the next two weeks.

"The meeting with Steinbrenner was very good," Beltran told Primera Hora. "He is a professional person, super-educated. ... The Yankees have shown that they are champions and the owner is going to do everything possible to win," Beltran said through a translation.

Beltran acknowledged interest from the Astros, Yankees, Mets and Cubs but said offers have not yet been exchanged during meetings with teams. Last week, Houston brass denied reports it had made a six-year, $96 million offer.

The Mets began their pursuit late, "but they entered and they are being aggressive," Beltran said. "To this point, they have not made an offer. I believe that we will have a meeting very soon."

Beltran indicated he would not be intimidated by the prospect of playing in New York.

"I always say that when one does things well, one is going to be blessed," Beltran said. "In all the places, when you do something good, the people applaud you. When you do something bad, they boo you. That happens in all the big-league parks."

Beltran earned plenty of cheers in Houston, where he slugged 23 homers in 90 games after being traded from Kansas City and eight more in the playoffs.

"As a ballplayer, I want to be treated based on what I have done in my career," Beltran said. "Of course, the opportunity to win is bigger than the economic thing. I want to be part of a winning team."

Baltimore Orioles: Pitcher Sidney Ponson has been detained on suspicion of assaulting a local judge at a beach on Christmas, police said Sunday.

Ponson, who was born in Aruba, has not been formally charged but is expected to be arraigned Monday on assault and battery charges, police spokesman Edwin Comenencia said.

Ponson's attorney, Chris Lejuez, did not immediately return several telephone calls seeking comment.

On Saturday at a beach in Boca Catalina several people confronted Ponson, accusing him of harassing them with his personal watercraft and operating it recklessly, police said.

The 28-year-old right-hander allegedly struck one of the men in the group several times, police said. The man was later identified as a local judge, Comenencia said.

The judge was hospitalized but his condition was not known, authorities said. Ponson fled the scene but police detained him late Saturday, police said. He is being held at a jail in the community of San Nicolas.

Ponson went 11-15 with a 5.30 ERA in 33 starts last season. He has a 69-80 career record in seven seasons with a 4.67 ERA and 802 strikeouts.

In 1998, Ponson became the third Aruban to play in the major leagues. In 2003, he was decorated in his homeland as a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Royal House.

Toronto Blue Jays: Former Blue Jay Doug Ault has died at 54. He was found dead in his home in Tarpon Springs, Fla., on Wednesday, according to a Toronto Sun report Sunday. Tarpon Springs is just a few miles from the Blue Jays' spring training quarters in Dunedin.

Ault hit the first two home runs in Blue Jays history in the team's 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1977.

With a snow storm in Toronto and a cold wind blowing off Lake
Ontario, Ault went deep into the stands of Exhibition Stadium twice that game, both times off of Sox starter Ken Brett, thrilling the 44,649 fans braving the chill.

Ault played in 256 games in the majors, batting .236 with 17 career home runs and 86 RBI.

Ault, who was born in Beaumont, Texas, worked as a manager in the Jays' organization, handling teams at Class-A Dunedin, Kingston
and St. Catharines before managing the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.

He is survived by his daughter, Cyndie, and son, Josh.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.