Beltran's pain puts Mets in tough spot
Affected by quad strain, center fielder reluctant to see DL time
NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran's nagging left quad muscle has begun to nag the Mets as well.
Beltran's recent struggles are no secret. He had poked one hit in his past 18 at-bats entering Sunday, he was hitting .143 in June, and his overall average -- which stood at .356 on May 1 -- had plummeted to a pedestrian .266.
All of those flaws crested on Saturday afternoon, when Beltran's 0-for-6 performance shredded the Mets' numerous comeback attempts, his final foul pop stunting a rally that was injecting much energy into a stagnant team.
So the struggles are obvious. But the source isn't.
Even Beltran is conflicted as to why he hasn't been the player the Mets signed two winters ago. In one breath, he insists that his struggles are mechanical and that the quad has little to do with an out-of-sync approach. But in the next, he reveals that the leg continues to affect his every swing.
"It's mechanical," Beltran said, before admitting that flawed mechanics stem from physical limitations. "I'm trying to avoid putting pressure on my leg. I've been trying to protect my leg."
Mets manager Willie Randolph said that Beltran hasn't complained to him about the injury. He's aware of it -- the two discuss his health when deciding whether the center fielder is feeling well enough to steal bases -- but he said that Beltran hasn't indicated that he wants a vacation.
"He looks like he's moving pretty well out there to me," Randolph said. "He hasn't said anything to me about it."
Beltran originally noted a tweak on May 6, asking out of the lineup against the Diamondbacks. Since then, the strained left quad hasn't gotten worse, but it also hasn't gotten better.
What's troubling is that Beltran insists that he's well enough to play, but then admits that the only way he can return to 100 percent would be rest -- the kind of significant rest that only a trip to the disabled list can provide.
But the disabled list is an ugly place, and Beltran cringes at the thought. Still, if his ineffectiveness continues, that ugliness edges more toward a necessary reality. Right now, Beltran simply isn't helping the Mets' offense in his impaired state -- especially not from the left side, where the left leg pain has reduced his average to just .254. Traditionally, that's Beltran's power side, but he has just one extra-base hit there in June.
If that continues, the Mets will have to weigh the cons of putting Beltran out of action against the cons of allowing him to struggle through. If their outfield were healthy -- starting left fielder Moises Alou remains out indefinitely, and primary backup Endy Chavez is also on the DL -- the Mets might soon consider a move. But without that duo, injuries are forcing their hand.
"If Moises was here and Endy was here, I would have considered taking like a week off," Beltran said. "Right now, I'm not really thinking about that."
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.