ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Just when Carlos Beltran's bat seemed to be heating up, his body may be about to come crashing down once again.
Beltran left Tuesday's night's game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels after a fifth-inning at-bat in which he aggravated an existing injury to the left side of his ribcage. Although no tests are scheduled while the Yankees are in California, the 38-year-old outfielder will likely wind up in an MRI tube when the team returns to New York after Wednesday's series and roadtrip finale. Then, we will know if Beltran is headed back into the lineup, or to the disabled list once again.
"(Monday) during the game I was sore, and today I felt basically the same," Beltran said. "But on that swing where I hit the foul ball, I felt a little pinch. Out of precaution, Joe decided to take me out of the game. Hopefully I ice it with treatment and tomorrow I wake up feeling better.”
Beltran finished his at-bat after fouling off a 3-1 pitch, and grounded out on the next pitch. He seemed to run normally to first, but did not return to right field when the Yankees took the field in the bottom of the inning. He was replaced by Garrett Jones.
"Any time a player leaves a game, you’re concerned," manager Joe Girardi said. "We’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow.”
The loss of Beltran could be a blow to the offensively-challenged Yankees, who managed just two hits, one of them a solo home run by Mark Teixeira, in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to the Angels. After a dreadfully slow start, Beltran raised his season's batting average 20 points by hitting .308 in June, to .260, as well as hitting three of his seven home runs and collecting nine of his 30 RBIs. If it's not exactly an Albert Pujols-type month -- the Angels first baseman hit 13 home runs and knocked in 26 runs in June -- it is still a vast improvement over what Beltran did in April, when he hit .162 with no home runs and seven RBI.
Beltran has spent time on the DL at least twice before in his career with oblique strains, and when asked if he thought this one would lead him there, as well, did not rule it out.
"I hope not, no," he said. "The way I feel right now, I don’t think so. But tomorrow will be the day where, once I go to the cage, once I test it out, then I will know where I am.”
And where the Yankees are with their right-field situation.