NEW YORK -- For the first time since Carlos Beltran underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in January, the Mets have established a concrete and specific timetable for his return.
Beltran will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A St. Lucie, meaning that -- barring any medical setbacks -- he will rejoin the Mets no later than July 15 in San Francisco.
"The way I look at it is, every team is looking to add a pitcher, a hitter, or something like that during that time of year," general manager Omar Minaya said. "For us to be able to add Carlos Beltran, there's not going to be a better hitter in any kind of market. So I think that's a plus for us."
Beltran, who began playing in extended spring games last month in Port St. Lucie, Fla., may remain on rehab assignment for a maximum of 20 days, according to MLB rules. If the Mets keep him on assignment for the maximum term, he would return to the club for their first game after the All-Star break.
In the interim, the Mets want to see Beltran acclimate to professional pitching, while continuing to strengthen his surgically repaired right knee.
"We've got to feel comfortable that in a Major League game, Carlos Beltran is going to be able to help this team in facets of fielding, running, hitting," Minaya said. "And also that he's going to be able to do it on a regular basis."
After traveling to Port St. Lucie on Monday to watch his center fielder play, Minaya discussed the situation with Beltran, his rehabilitation staff and manager Jerry Manuel, coming to the consensus that Beltran is finally well enough to play in Minor League games.
"It's very encouraging," Manuel said. "It's good that he's doing extremely well. He's very excited about getting back and playing. And he's in a hurry to help the team, which is good. All good signs, very good signs."
A career .283 hitter, Beltran batted .284 with 27 homers in his last full season, 2006. He missed almost the entire second half of last season with right knee issues.
Parnell recalled for late-inning situations
NEW YORK -- With Jenrry Mejia sent down to work on his pitches and stretch out to eventually become a starter, a familiar face was back in the Mets' clubhouse before Tuesday's game with the Tigers.
Bobby Parnell, who pitched 88 1/3 innings with a 5.30 ERA for the Mets last season, predominantly as a reliever, failed to make the roster out of Spring Training, but was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
"There was definitely times last year where I was trying to pitch away from contact, and that's not what I do, and that's not what I should do," Parnell said.
Manager Jerry Manuel said he plans to use Parnell to protect a lead in the seventh inning, or in a tie game in the eighth.
The right-hander posted a 4.14 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings for Buffalo this season, putting an emphasis on inducing ground balls.
"It's always better to be in the big leagues, so I'm just glad they decided to call me up," Parnell said.
Pagan's future uncertain as Beltran rehabs
NEW YORK -- No Mets player has been a more pleasant surprise this season than Angel Pagan, who has carried the Mets at times with his hitting, speed and improved defense.
His reward may be a seat on the bench.
With Carlos Beltran due back from the disabled list by the All-Star break, Pagan -- despite his strong play throughout the first half of the season -- figures to have his playing time affected more than anyone.
"Whenever he gets back, I hope the team feels happy with the job I'm doing," said Pagan, who entered Tuesday's play hitting a team-best .296 with four home runs and 14 steals. "I wasn't trying to replace him -- those are some large shoes to fill. I was just trying to do my best."
Though manager Jerry Manuel has yet to draw up specific plans for when Beltran returns, he did make it clear Tuesday that Beltran will exclusively play center field. Pagan, he said, will sub in at all three outfield positions, though he still figures to receive much of his playing time in center. Beltran, at least initially, will need frequent time off to rest his surgically repaired right knee.
"This will be a little different situation, because we feel like we have, right now, three guys that are good everyday players and have played well," Manuel said. "It's going to take some managing on our part to make sure we kind of keep everybody happy and to keep everybody having success. I think that's going to be the most important thing."
But if Pagan flourishes throughout the midsummer months and Jeff Francoeur struggles, it is possible that Pagan could shift into a more regular role in right field -- perhaps even a platoon situation.
Pagan, Manuel said, is the only outfielder who will see regular time at multiple spots.
"I think we all knew eventually we were going to have four really good outfielders for only three spots," Francoeur said. "We'll all play a bunch. We'll all contribute. And whatever Jerry decides to do, we're all still going to play a lot."
Pagan, who speaks often to his friend, and countryman, Beltran, acknowledged the potential boost that Beltran may bring to the lineup.
"I always tell him, 'Hey, we need you over here, you're a big part of this team,'" Pagan said. "So we're looking forward to having him back, and having one of the best center fielders in the game with us -- and one of the best hitters, too."
Maine receives second opinion on shoulder
NEW YORK -- John Maine received a second opinion on his ailing right shoulder Tuesday, and the Mets are awaiting the results of that test.
Maine, who has been on the disabled list since May 21 with what the Mets termed right rotator cuff tendinitis, was initially expected to rejoin the Mets as soon as this week. But the team shut him down indefinitely after Maine complained of continued discomfort following a rehab start last Friday in Buffalo.
Maine's second opinion will come from a doctor unaffiliated with the Mets.
Familia gets call to Anaheim for Futures Game
NEW YORK -- The future, for Jeurys Familia, is in Anaheim.
Familia, 20, will represent the Mets at the 2010 XM Futures Game on Sunday, July 11, at Angel Stadium. A native of the Dominican Republic, Familia will pitch for the World team.
The 12th annual Futures Game can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on XM 175. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game.
Considered one of the organization's top pitching prospects, Familia is 0-4 with a 6.16 ERA for Class A St. Lucie. Last year, he went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA for Class A Savannah.
Familia made headlines this spring when he reportedly hit 100 mph on a back field in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
The Futures Game has long provided a platform for the Mets to showcase their international talent, dating back to when Jose Reyes won MVP honors for the World team in '02. Last year, right-hander Jenrry Mejia and shortstop Wilmer Flores represented the Mets in St. Louis.
Mejia, another hard-throwing right-hander, was sent down to Double-A Binghamton this week after breaking camp with the Mets.
Other Futures Game alumni for the Mets include outfielder Fernando Martinez ('07 and '08) and David Wright ('04).
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.