MLB: Mets outline plan to have Beltran ready

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) - The New York Mets outlined a plan for Carlos Beltran on Thursday that will hopefully have the All-Star outfielder ready for opening day.

Beltran, who has been hampered by left knee tendinitis, has not yet played the outfield in a major league game this spring. But as a first step in the process, he played in a simulated game Thursday, fielding balls in right field, hitting and running the bases full speed. He will do the same Friday before competing in a minor league game Saturday. The team will then re-evaluate the plan.

"I just wanted to come here today and test it kind of like a simulated game," Beltran said. "Actually, this is more than we do in the game, but I just wanted to test the knee, and hopefully tomorrow I re-cooperate, feeling good."

The 33-year-old Beltran played minor league games the previous two days but focused only on hitting. The simulated games were meant to create more demanding situations in a controlled setting.

Beltran was shut down for more than a week before resuming baseball activities March 17. He had a cortisone shot two days later. Beltran developed tendinitis while compensating for his right knee, which he had surgery on in January 2010.

General manager Sandy Alderson said there is no rush to enter Beltran into a major league game, and his progression will be based on a day-by-day evaluation.

"It would be nice if he saw major league pitching at the end of spring training, but if you go on a rehab assignment during the regular season, you don't see major league pitching," Alderson said. "You see minor league pitching. We'll have to balance the desire to have him in a major league game with the risk that if something happens we can't backdate the DL."

If Beltran plays in only minor league games, he could backdate his time on the disabled list through 10 days of spring training and miss just three regular-season games because the Mets are off two of the first five days of the season.

Alderson said the goal still remains for Beltran to be ready for the April 1 opener against the Marlins.

"Opening day is kind of like the Dow at 10,000," Alderson said. "If it dips below it, you don't know where it comes to rest. I think the idea is, 'Let's get him ready for opening day, and if he can't be, he can't be,' but I think that's what he wants to do, and that's what we're trying to reach."

Beltran said the important thing is to get back to game speed. He hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since March 6, when he served as a designated hitter against the Red Sox.

In the simulated game Thursday, Beltran chased down flyballs, including one that sliced away from him and forced him to adjust on the run. On the basepaths, he ran hard to first and rounded the bag, then later ran from second to home.

"Defensively I feel very comfortable," Beltran said. "My main concern was being able to run the bases, stopping a run, things like that. Thank God I got that out of my head, and I am looking to doing a little bit more the next couple days."

Beltran said he has no fear going full speed, and neither knee has bothered him during his recent workouts.

"When I play in the field, you can't play with fear," Beltran said. "You have to play the game the way it is, and if something happens, you can't control that. Today was a good day. I didn't compensate at all and I feel good."


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