Carlos Beltran trying to avoid DL

Updated: March 27, 2011, 1:52 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Trying to avoid a season-opening stint on the disabled list, New York Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran appeared Saturday in a formal game for the first time since March 6.

Beltran went 0-for-5 and played right field for five innings against the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins, on a back field at the Mets' spring training complex.

It marked Beltran's first game since serving as designated hitter against the Boston Red Sox nearly three weeks ago, after which he was shut down with left knee tendinitis that required a cortisone shot.

It also marked Beltran's first time in a game in right field during spring training.

Beltran pronounced his balky knees OK afterward and said he would again play five innings in a minor league game Sunday.

He hoped to advance to a Grapefruit League game Tuesday and play seven innings in Viera against the Washington Nationals. The front office will need to sign off on that, though, because once Beltran appears in a major league spring training game, the Mets lose the ability to backdate any ensuing 15-day DL stint a full 10 days into spring training.

"I didn't feel anything, so I feel good about it," Beltran said. "Honestly, right now, I'm not worried about hitting. The last thing I've got in mind is hitting. I'm more worried about where I am on my legs. Hitting will come."

Beltran struck out in each of his first three at-bats, then grounded out to third base, all batting right-handed against southpaw Sean West. In his final at-bat, Beltran batted left-handed against right-hander Steven Cishek and was retired on a cue shot to second base.

Beltran received only two chances in right field -- one shot that cleared his head for a triple, and another he cut off in the right-center gap for a double. He said he went full speed, although it was hardly the fluid movements that prompted Mike Piazza to describe Beltran as a "gazelle" during the outfielder's first spring training with the Mets.

"A little bit different," Beltran said about right field, where he has played only five career major league games. "Less active than center field, for sure. Everything they hit, almost, was to left field, left-center, so I didn't get a chance to move really."

As for the 0-for-5, Beltran said he was not concerned because he took plenty of swings during the offseason back in Puerto Rico. He contrasted that with the previous offseason, when he needed to undergo right knee surgery Jan. 13, 2010, and did not take many cuts all winter.

"Last year was a different story, because last year I could not hit in the offseason," he said. "Timing-wise, that's something that's going to take time. I can deal with that part."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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