NEW YORK -- Based on Omar Minaya's timetable, Carlos Beltran is unlikely to rejoin the Mets before the All-Star break.

Beltran has not yet begun full baseball activities, according to the general manager. Once he does, he will still need four to six weeks of rehabilitation before he can return to the active roster.

Minaya said that team doctors will have the final say regarding Beltran.

"It's in their hands as far as deciding when," he said.

Though Beltran has been jogging and taking batting practice daily at the team's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he has not yet progressed to sprinting.

When the Mets first announced Beltran's right knee surgery in January, they estimated that he would be able to return to full baseball activities by the first week in April. But more than seven weeks have passed since that time, and Beltran remains limited.

Now, the soonest Beltran could return to the Mets is early July. More likely, he will remain in Florida until after the All-Star break and quite possibly even longer than that.

One team official also brushed aside speculation that Angel Pagan's hot play will force the Mets to move Beltran to right field when he returns. The Mets, according to the official, have no such plans.

Barajas gets breather to rest wrist

NEW YORK -- Mets starting catcher Rod Barajas was given Thursday's game against the Phillies off after taking a wild pitch from reliever Jenrry Mejia to the left wrist during Wednesday night's game.

Barajas had X-rays taken Wednesday after the game, which came back negative. Henry Blanco was to start in his place, giving Barajas time to deal with the swelling and soreness in his arm.

"It's pretty much what we thought it was going to be," Barajas said. "It's basically a day-to-day thing, so I'll wake up tomorrow and see how I feel."

Barajas had his left forearm in a hard brace as he addressed the media from his locker on Thursday, but he said he would be available to pinch-hit if needed.

"If I'm called upon, I'm definitely going to be there," Barajas said. "I'm not going to say no."

The 12-year veteran is posting the highest OPS of his career (.846) and leads all catchers in home runs (10) this season.

Niese set for rehab start, to return next week

NEW YORK -- Jon Niese will make a Minor League rehab start this weekend with Class A St. Lucie and should rejoin the rotation late next week.

Niese, who threw his second bullpen session of the week on Thursday, has been cleared to join the St. Lucie Mets for a rehab start either Saturday or Sunday. And manager Jerry Manuel said that he will rejoin the rotation as soon as he is ready, most likely next Friday at Citi Field.

"He'll be back in the rotation when he gets back, yes," Manuel said.

If Fernando Nieve pitches well in his rotation debut this Saturday, and R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi both continue to excel, then the Mets would have six starters for five spots once Niese returns. Manuel indicated that he would at least temporarily consider keeping all six of them in the rotation, affording Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey extra days of rest during the summer months.

"There are always a lot of different possibilities," Manuel said.

Niese has been on the disabled list since May 17 with a mild right hamstring strain. He said the muscle is now back to 100 percent.

Miss USA visits Mets at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Newly crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih paid the Mets a visit Thursday, chatting up players and fans during batting practice.

Fakih, who will represent the United States at this summer's Miss Universe competition, is a Queens native who graduated from St. John's Preparatory School in 2003.

"I have to be honest with you, I'm a big NFL fan," Fakih said. "But I do love baseball."

Worth noting

Speaking in generalities, general manager Omar Minaya said the Mets are actively perusing the trade market for starting pitchers. "We're always going to be looking to add to our starting rotation," Minaya said. ... Johan Santana said he is looking forward to squaring off against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo in Milwaukee. Gallardo is 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA; Santana is 4-2 with a 3.41 mark. "It's going to be another challenge," Santana said. ... With Wednesday's victory, the Mets improved to 99-26 (.792) all-time when Jose Reyes scores multiple runs.