Carlos Beltran‘s arthroscopic knee surgery in January triggered a domino effect: Did the Mets know about the surgery? When will he return? Who will play centerfield? The Mets front office responded, no, no idea and then went out and traded for Gary Matthews Jr.
In the immortal words of Don Henley, “In a New York Minute, everything can change …”
It’s mid-June and the Mets have won six straight, trailing the Atlanta Braves by one-half game in the National League East. Meanwhile, Beltran is reportedly still limping around Port St. Lucie playing in extended Spring Training games.
When will Beltran return? That hasn’t changed. The Mets have no timetable.
Does it matter?
Not as long as Angel Pagan continues to produce.
He started the season as the fourth outfielder, behind Matthews Jr. Through Wednesday, Pagan is second on the team in average (.288), stolen bases (14) and runs scored (37). The Mets record is 10-2 since manager Jerry Manuel moved him into the No. 2 spot in the batting order. Pagan does all the little things that don’t end up in the box score, including doling out whipped cream pies.
So where does Beltran fit in?
If healthy, Beltran will provide legitimate power and consistency in the middle of the order. Jeff Francoeur could eventually be the odd man out. He is streaky and has a history of falling into prolonged slumps.
The Mets couldn’t have asked for better results. What looked like disaster In January has turned into this June question: Can the Mets find enough playing time for a five-time All-Star?
That’s not a bad thing.
On Tuesday, Mets GM Omar Minaya said Beltran is “close” to returning.
“He is continuing work out, to swing the bat, to run. Like all these things, of course, it’s how does he feel the next day?” he said.