Mets wanted third opinion for Beltran

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets are upset Carlos Beltran had knee surgery this week after the team asked him to wait while management discussed options with its medical staff, but Beltran disputed the team's claims.

"We told the agent for the player that we wanted to have the ability to discuss the diagnosis and possibly have a third opinion because, you know, of the nature of this injury," Assistant general manager John Ricco said during a telephone conference call Thursday. "We wanted to have the opportunity to digest the information, the diagnosis, and unfortunately we were never afforded the opportunity to do that."

Ricco said the All-Star center fielder had permission to be examined Tuesday by Dr. Richard Steadman, a knee specialist in Colorado who also looked at Beltran last summer. Steadman recommended surgery and operated on Beltran on Wednesday, removing cartilage fragments and inflammation, and shaving bone spurs.

Ricco said the Mets' request to Boras to delay surgery was made Tuesday evening. Beltran had a different view.

"I am totally surprised by the reaction to my recent knee surgery," Beltran said in a statement released by Boras Thursday evening. "I have done nothing but follow the directions of my doctors. Any accusations that I ignored or defied the team's wishes are simply false."

Beltran said Steadman consulted with the Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek, who said "he would relay his approval to Mets management."

He also said general manager Omar Minaya wished him well on Tuesday and did not ask him to wait or get another opinion.

"No one from the team raised any issue until Wednesday, after I was already in surgery," Beltran said. "I do not know what else I could have done."

New York said Beltran is expected to resume baseball activities in 12 weeks -- although Boras said it could be as few as eight. Ricco said the team will be "losing his services, at least for the early part of the season."

"We thought we had cooperation from their side," Ricco said. "And to find out afterward that, you know, the surgery occurred, that's where we're most upset."

Boras told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that the office for Steadman 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 chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Minaya about the surgery.

Thus far, the Mets have stopped short of taking action against Beltran for going ahead with the operation. He is entering the sixth season of a $119 million, seven-year contract.

"We sent a letter to the agent reserving our rights," Ricco said. "And that's where it stands right now."

The Mets contacted lawyers in the labor relations division of the commissioner's office but have few options. They could withhold Beltran's pay while he is on the disabled list, which would risk allowing him to become a free agent if the team loses a dispute, or to attempt to void the guarantee language in his contract.

"We're investigating it," players' association assistant general counsel Jeff Fannell said. "Just based on the facts as we understand them to be, the Mets have no basis to assert a claim against Carlos Beltran that he violated his contract."

Ricco spoke because Minaya and Wilpon were at the major league owners meetings in Arizona.

"When you have a player of this magnitude, you have an injury that could keep him out for a substantial period of time, you know, our view of it was that we want to make sure we have all the information that we can have at the time before we go forward," Ricco said. "Obviously, both the Mets' and Carlos Beltran's interest in this is Carlos Beltran's health and having him be healthy and productive for the Mets."

A five-time All-Star, Beltran missed 2½ months last season with a painful bone bruise on his right knee. The switch-hitter finished with a team-leading .325 batting average and .415 on-base percentage. He had 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

Beltran, who turns 33 in April, had an MRI exam near the end of last season, another one in November and a third on Dec. 10. The third screening showed worsening of an underlying condition in his right knee called osteoarthritis.

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

Information from The Associated Press and 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand was used in this report.