- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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General manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged there is little margin for deviation from the script if Beltran is to be active for the April 1 opener against the Florida Marlins in Miami.
Originally dealing with an arthritic right knee, Beltran developed left knee tendinitis in camp and required a cortisone shot. He has been limited to three Grapefruit League at-bats, all against the Boston Red Sox as a designated hitter on March 6.
Beltran was scheduled to DH for a second straight game Wednesday on the minor league side of the Mets' complex, then be replaced by a pinch runner if he reached base.
Alderson said Beltran could appear in a game without restriction this weekend.
"We're down to eight days," Alderson said. "It's important now to say, 'OK, here are the eight days. How are we going to use them in order to be ready to go on Opening Day?' So that was laid out. And obviously we have to be flexible. It will depend day to day on whether that schedule gets moved back. But I do think it's fair to say at this point there's not a lot of wiggle room in that schedule between now and Opening Day if he's going to be on the active roster."
Still, Alderson maintained: "As of this point he's still on track for Opening Day."
One sticking point is whether to put Beltran in a Grapefruit League game or leave him on the minor league side. If Beltran is limited to minor league games and then lands on the DL to open the season, he would need to miss only the first three games because 15-day DL trips can be backdated 10 days into spring training, and the Mets are off two of the first five games of the regular season.
"The one issue we'll have to manage is the playing in major league games or not playing in major league games," Alderson said. "We'll see where that goes. Obviously during a regular-season disablement, when a player is coming off rehab, they don't play in major league games. They play in minor league games. So considering the fact the backdating of the DL might come into play."
As for other topics, Alderson was not prepared to anoint Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus the Opening Day second baseman. Still, on the day Justin Turner was optioned to Triple-A camp, the GM said to look at the lineup card and use some imagination.
"I'd say that the lineup card is as revealing as anything I can say," Alderson said.
Alderson said he held a conference call Wednesday morning with the team's professional scouts, seemingly to instruct them to start putting out word about players the Mets would trade.
Infielder Luis Hernandez, who is out of options and unlikely to make the club because of the offseason acquisition of Chin-lung Hu from the Los Angeles Dodgers, is a prime trade candidate because he would be unlikely to clear waivers.
Among relievers, out-of-options Manny Acosta and Pat Misch could be left off the roster and be available via trade, although Acosta could slip onto the 25-man roster if the Mets have concerns about the health of Jason Isringhausen's elbow.
Isringhausen, 38, has experienced elbow inflammation and threw a bullpen session Wednesday for the first time since taking oral medication to reduce the swelling.
Alderson said the organization even briefly considered carrying eight relievers and four bench players, but he said it was "unlikely."
"The relief pitching has been very good among those that are competing for a roster spot," Alderson said.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.