01/14/10 9:03 PM EST
Mets didn't approve Beltran's surgery
Club wanted time to consider options with its medical staff
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
The club had requested that Beltran not undergo arthroscopic surgery recommended by his personal doctor until it had time to consider options with its medical staff. But the problematic right knee of its center fielder was cleaned out Wednesday morning without the club's approval or knowledge.
By late Thursday, Beltran and the players union responded to inquiries about the scenario and contradicted the Mets' claim.
"I am totally surprised by the reaction to my recent knee surgery," Beltran said in his e-mail statement. "I have done nothing but follow the directions of my doctors. Any accusations that I ignored or defied the team's wishes are simply false.
"On Tuesday, Dr. [Richard] Steadman consulted with the Mets' [medical director Dr. David Altchek] about my knee. Dr. Altchek agreed with Dr. Steadman's diagnosis that I needed surgery, and said he would relay his approval to Mets management.
"I also spoke to [general manager] Omar Minaya about the surgery on Tuesday. He did not ask me to wait, or to get another doctor's opinion. He just wished me well. No one from the team raised any issue until Wednesday, after I was already in surgery. I do not know what else I could have done."
The e-mailed statement from the Major League Baseball Players Association said: "This matter was recently brought to our attention. Based on the facts as we currently understand them, the Mets have no basis to assert that Carlos Beltran violated his contract."
Earlier in the day, the Mets took the uncustomary -- for them -- step of explaining in some detail the developments that preceded the surgery during a conference call with reporters Thursday. And while they gave no indication of what subsequent steps they may take, they did make mention of "legal ramifications" and said they had sent a letter to Boras "reserving our rights."
Mets assistant general manager John Ricco indicated during a conference call that the club had been unaware that Beltran had undergone surgery and said several times that the club wasn't necessarily opposed to the operation. Rather, Ricco said, the club was "not happy about the process" and "more upset [with] the way the process played out."
"We thought we had cooperation from their side," Ricco said. "And to find out afterward that ... the surgery occurred, that's where we're most upset."
Ricco said the club had told Boras "very directly we don't want [Beltran] to have surgery until" the club had an opportunity to "digest" the information it had been given.
Boras could not be reached for comment on Thursday. And Ricco said, as far as he knew, neither the agent nor Beltran had explained to the club why the surgery had been performed.
The Associated Press reported that Beltran had not obtained written consent from the Mets to undergo the surgery and that Boras said the guarantee language in Beltran's contract requires advance written permission only for elective surgery.
"This was necessary surgery, necessary surgery to work," Boras told The AP.
The Mets could claim the surgery was elective.
In their statement Wednesday, the Mets identified Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed the surgery, as Beltran's personal physician and noted that the player had "elected" to have the surgery. Ricco declined Thursday to characterize the surgery as "elective" or "necessary."
The AP reported that Boras said Steadman, who performed the surgery, had spoken with Altchek on Monday and Tuesday after Beltran had been examined. It said Steadman obtained Altchek's consent for the surgery and that Altchek isn't authorized to give consent because he is not a club official.
"Dr. Steadman has represented to us that he spoke with the Mets' physician, and he received consent to go forward with the plan and the surgery," Boras said. "Dr. Steadman has told us that his office contacted the Mets' trainer and obtained the appropriate insurance forms and received approval for payment to go ahead with the surgery."
"We told the agent for the player that we wanted to have the ability to discuss the diagnosis and possibly have a third option because ... of the nature of this injury," Ricco said. "We wanted to have the opportunity to digest the information, the diagnosis, and unfortunately, we were never afforded the opportunity to do that."
The club announced late Wednesday that Beltran had undergone the procedure that had been recommended by Steadman. The prognosis is that Beltran will be able to resume baseball activities in early April, after Opening Day. Ricco declined to estimate when Beltran might be ready to play. But May 1 seems to be a best-case scenario.
Ricco said Beltran had the club's permission to be examined by Steadman, a knee specialist in Denver. Steadman had provided a second opinion on the knee June 30. Ricco expressed no dissatisfaction with Steadman or Beltran and expressed hope that the surgery "will alleviate the symptoms that have prevented him from playing."
Ricco noted the surgery had eliminated some inflammation, removed some cartilage and trimmed off some bone spurs. He also said Beltran is not considered a candidate for microsurgery.
Ricco explained that Beltran had been pain free through November, but that pain developed when the player "ramped up" for Spring Training conditioning. Altchek was notified, and Beltran's knee was examined via MRI on Dec. 10. Beltran was urged to ease off on his workouts.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.