Beltran will be out four to five days, a Mets spokesman said.
"I don't want to
compensate into the one that I really have to protect," Beltran said of his knees. "I let the
trainers know, and the doctor decided to put me on anti-inflammatories
for a week and then shut down some of the work I've been doing
outside, the high-impact. Heating is OK, cardio on the bike, the pool. It's not like I'm not going to do anything. I'm going to continue to
work and try to put myself in shape, but the field things, it's going
to be off [for] a little bit."
Beltran saw his first Grapefruit League action Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, when he went 1-for-3 as designated hitter. The Mets initially believed Beltran would be capable of returning to a game Monday, and then Tuesday, but this didn't transpire.
Beltran even considered getting at-bats in a simulated game on a back field with minor leaguers at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie -- which would have allowed him to see live pitching without running -- but that also was aborted.
"I talked to Carlos on the phone. He is not going to play in the simulated game. He's not going to play today," manager Terry Collins told ESPNNewYork.com in Kissimmee, the site of the Mets' road split-squad game.
Beltran said he's been feeling irritation for a while.
"I started feeling it when I first started
running here, the first couple days of spring training," he said. "I felt like I
was compensating, and it got worse, worse, worse, to the point where
now I have to make sure it doesn't get worse than that."
Beltran had work done on his left knee in 2007.
"Actually, it's a different area. It's a little bit to the side. ... [The surgery was] right in the middle," Beltran said, adding that his right knee has felt so good he's not even icing it.
Collins insisted this was not an alarming turn of events.
"We talked about some things," Collins said about his conversation with Beltran. "His legs are stiff right now, and he's got a little tendinitis in his other knee, his left knee. So I said, 'Look, let's take the two days now. It beats two weeks if we try to stretch it.' We've got a lot of time. He's swinging the bat great. He's had good BPs. He's doing a lot of work in the cage, which I know that's what's causing it."
Asked if observers should be concerned with Beltran not playing in two games since serving as DH on Sunday, especially considering Beltran had to shut down his 2010 season with a week to go because of chronic right knee issues, Collins said: "They can say what they want. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. But they're not here. We've got to do what's right and what's smart. We can't get this guy ready so the fans think he's going to play. We've got to get him ready to play."
Collins remained optimistic Beltran would open the season with the team.
"I know I'm
probably not going to have the same spring everyone will have, but I
feel confident I had a good offseason," Beltran said. "I put in a lot of work in the offseason that I didn't put in last year, so that will come. We will
take our time, but my key right now is to make sure I am ready for the
If he's not ready, the Mets could use Scott Hairston and Willie Harris in right field and place on-the-bubble Nick Evans on the 25-man roster, or use the farm system and have Fernando Martinez or Lucas Duda start in right field.
Beltran agreed early in camp to shift from center field to right field this season because of knee issues.
Beltran has played only three major league games in right field, all in 2000 with the Kansas City Royals. The latest development will further diminish his preparation time for the switch from center field.
"I think you can get a player ready in 15 days," Collins said. "... Obviously we've got to reevaluate the plan. We've got to come up with a new one."
And the Mets know they need to manage Beltran's health these days.
right now we have to recognize that his knees need to be managed to
maximize his performance and availability," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "This is obviously some
indication of that need, and we'll deal with it."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com