Pregame: Beltran in, Duda out

NEW YORK -- Center fielder Carlos Beltran returns to the Mets lineup this afternoon against the Phillies, while struggling left fielder Lucas Duda will get a day off.

Beltran returns to the No. 3 spot in the lineup after sitting out yesterday’s 4-3 Mets win over Philadelphia with tendonitis in his left knee. Beltran and Mets manager Jerry Manuel talked after yesterday’s contest, with Manuel asking Beltran if he was ready to play and his centerfielder telling him he could take the field today.

“I’m OK,” Beltran said. “Like I said, this is something that is not new for me, I dealt with this before so I know how to handle it.”

Beltran said he played through tendonitis during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, but it gets to the point where it gets painful and he wants to get it fixed. Doctors told him he was going to go through this pain because he would be compensating by not putting pressure on his right knee, which he had surgery on in January.

“When I start playing in the rehab games I felt it,” Beltran said. “Not a big deal, I’ve been there before, but it got to the point, where it was a little bit more. So I let the trainers know about it, and they decided to give me a day off, and today I’m there.”

Beltran said the only rehab he can do is icing the knee and staying away from running the bikes before the games and activities like that. He maintains that the tendinitis is not a big deal, and all parties involved are focusing on taking the proper steps to manage it.

“I think it’s just kind of something that flared up and he calmed it down and he can go back and play,” Manuel said. “I think we’ll try to do what we’ve been doing (which) is when we get a chance to give him a break, we give him that break, but he should be OK.”

While Beltran returns, Duda will get a much-needed break from action. The rookie is 1-for-28 to start his major league career, and has not recorded a hit since Sept. 3. He went 0-for-2 yesterday before being replaced by a pinch hitter.

Manuel said yesterday he would try to find good matchups for Duda, and decided to pass on the rookie getting at-bats against Phillies’ starter Roy Oswalt.

“Yesterday I thought he was a little anxious. I thought he saw probably two pitches and two outs,” Manuel said. “I think when you get that way you press a little bit, so I think it’s best to give him a day off today.”