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Mets' best hope is a better Beltran

8/1/2010 - MLB Carlos Beltran New York Mets + more

NEW YORK -- General manager Omar Minaya didn't add any big names to the New York Mets roster before Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline.

There is no ace on the way, no bullpen help waiting in the wings and no bat off the bench to make a difference.

So the only piece the team can realistically hope to add from this point forward is a productive Carlos Beltran.

And Beltran, who has struggled since his July 15 return from offseason knee surgery, offered a glimmer of hope to a fan base that needed it Saturday night.

He hit a ball deep enough to right field to score Jesus Feliciano from third on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to give the Mets a 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"Carlos is not quite right, but you know he knows what to do in those situations," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

After Feliciano opened the ninth with a triple, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson decided to intentionally walk Angel Pagan and David Wright in order to face Beltran.

"As a player you want to be in situations like that where you can come through for the team," Beltran said. "After they walked David Wright I just told myself to do what just happened. Hit the ball in the outfield deep enough where that run can score."

Beltran was mobbed by his teammates at first base after Feliciano scored the winning run. It's safe to say the sac fly Saturday night has been the highlight of Beltran's 15-game season. Beltran is hitting .204 since his return from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The Mets are 5-10 since Beltran came back.

"I need to get better, I need to get in a position where I know I can be to help this team," said Beltran, who has a paltry .312 on-base percentage after going 0-for-3 with a walk Saturday. "I'm good, I feel good, I feel healthy and I'm working to get there."

Beltran, who will take a scheduled day off Sunday, returned to the big leagues after the All-Star Break, hoping to spark the Mets in the second half.

But he couldn't do anything to offset the Mets' 2-9 free-fall on the West Coast.

After Saturday's win over the Arizona -- the Mets' first over the last-place D-backs in five tries -- the team sits 6½ games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves and 6½ games behind the San Francisco Giants, who lead the wild-card race.

Beltran needs time to get up to speed in the big leagues; he played just 14 games in Port St. Lucie before joining the Mets in San Francisco. But the Mets (53-51) are heading to Atlanta and Philadelphia next week, so they need their $119 million center fielder -- who has just six hits in his last 38 at-bats -- to get back to his former self sooner rather than later.

If not, they could be buried before the second week in August.

"When Carlos [is] right, he's one of the best players in the game. He can carry any team in the big leagues," Jose Reyes said. "We don't worry about [Beltran struggling] because we know it's going to take a little time. As soon as he puts it together you know he's going to be fine."

Reyes missed spring training with a thyroid issue and had to make up for lost time in the opening weeks of the season. So he knows what Beltran is going through. He says he sees the center fielder making progress every day, but time is running out for the Mets, who are 3-2 on this homestand but have lost 15 of their last 21.

"It's one of those things where one day he feels good and everything is going to click," Reyes said of Beltran. "Hopefully it's going to be soon."

For the Mets' sake, Reyes had better be right.

Because, barring an August addition through waivers, it's safe to the team you saw Saturday night will be same team you see for the final 58 games of the season.

The only piece they can hope to add is a productive Beltran.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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