Beltran can resume work in 12 weeks

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran had surgery on his troublesome right knee Wednesday and the All-Star center fielder will miss the start of the season. His decision to have the operation also sparked a dispute about whether he had received permission from the team, and perhaps whether the surgery was needed at all.

The New York Mets said Beltran is expected to resume baseball activities in 12 weeks, a timetable that likely would keep him out for most of April -- and maybe longer.

New York's first official workout for pitchers and catchers is a little more than five weeks away, on Feb. 20. The Mets open the season April 5 against Florida.

"The doctor said eight weeks, possibly, and a window to 12 weeks to resume baseball activities. With elite athletes, the timetable is sometimes shorter than the original prognosis," Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, said.

Either way, it's more bad news for the Mets, ravaged by serious injuries to several stars last year while sliding to 70-92 and fourth place in the NL East. Hoping for a fast start to the upcoming season, they will be without one of their best players for at least the first few weeks.

The Mets didn't want Beltran to have the surgery, but Beltran had it anyway and surprised the Mets by doing so, baseball sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney. The Mets have contacted the commissioner's office about possibly filing a grievance, the sources said.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said that the Mets asked for the opportunity to at least discuss the diagnosis with a third party -- and Beltran had the surgery before the team had the chance to do that. The Mets have sent a letter to Boras stating their objection to this process, Ricco said.

Ricco said that the team was not aware that Beltran had surgery on Wednesday until after the surgery was completed. The team was under the impression that they were going to continue have a discussion about options and the diagnosis, Ricco said, "and the next thing we knew he had the surgery."

"We were disappointed that the process wasn't followed," Ricco said.

However, Boras told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that the office for Dr. Richard Steadman, the surgeon who performed Beltran's surgery, received workman's compensation paperwork to pay for the procedure from Mets trainer Ray Ramirez.

"The Mets gave consent to pay for the surgery," Boras told 1050 ESPN New York.

Boras also said he had conversations on Tuesday with both Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya about the surgery. Beltran also spoke with Minaya, according to Boras.

Boras said the guarantee language in the slugger's contract requires advance written permission only for elective operations.

"This was necessary surgery, necessary surgery to work," Boras told The Associated Press.

Boras said Steadman spoke with Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek on Monday and again after Beltran was examined in Colorado on Tuesday, and that Steadman obtained Altchek's consent for the surgery.

Boras also said he called Mets executives Monday to tell them Beltran was going to see Steadman and that they should keep in touch with Altchek. The agent said he traveled to Colorado with Beltran for the exam.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Altchek was not authorized to give consent because he is not a Mets official.

"Dr. Steadman has represented to us that he spoke with the Mets' physician and he received consent to go forward with the plan and the surgery," Boras said. "Dr. Steadman has told us that his office contacted the Mets trainer and obtained the appropriate insurance forms and received approval for payment to go ahead with the surgery."

In a statement released Wednesday night, the Mets said Beltran's osteoarthritis worsened during the offseason and he decided to have arthroscopic surgery to clean out the arthritic area of his knee.

The procedure was performed by Steadman, considered one of the top knee surgeons in the world. He is noted for his work performing microfracture knee surgery on basketball players.

Beltran went to see Steadman last summer for a second opinion on his aching knee, and the doctor agreed with the Mets' medical staff that surgery was not needed at that time.

A five-time All-Star, Beltran missed 2½ months last season with a painful bone bruise on his right knee, coinciding with the team's plunge. He returned Sept. 8 and was eased back into the everyday lineup.

The switch-hitter finished with a team-leading .325 batting average and .415 on-base percentage. He had 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

The Mets said Beltran hadn't felt pain after the season ended or early in his offseason conditioning, but his symptoms "returned to the point where pre-spring training conditioning became too painful."

Boras said Altchek had been examining Beltran once a month during the offseason.

"Since the beginning of November, he was feeling discomfort and pain," Boras said. "They found some fragments in there that had to be removed."

The persistent injury is a major concern for the Mets and Beltran, who turns 33 on April 24. He is about to enter the sixth season of a seven-year, $119 million contract he signed before 2005.

Angel Pagan got regular playing time in Beltran's absence last season and would probably fill in again.

In addition to Beltran, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana were among the Mets stars who missed long stretches of time due to injuries last year, along with pitchers John Maine, Oliver Perez and J.J. Putz.

Reyes and Delgado went down in May and did not return. Many of the replacements got hurt, too, and Mets players spent more than 1,480 days on the disabled list, more than any other major league team, according to STATS LLC.

Minaya could not immediately be reached for comment.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney was used in this report.