Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Tuesday that outfielder Carlos Beltran is on "a nice track" in his recovery from knee surgery and could "soon" begin a minor league rehab assignment.
ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reported Beltran has begun running the bases and catching fly balls. He is hopeful of playing within a week, though Manuel signaled that might be ambitious.
Manuel also said it’s "not out of the question" that Beltran will play right field when he finally is activated. Angel Pagan has played well as the everyday center fielder in place of Beltran, and there is a concern about diminished range as Beltran deals with his arthritic knee.
"It depends on how he’s running," Manuel told reporters in San Diego. "I think, really, it would be something I would have to entertain with him, as to how comfortable he feels in one spot or the other. You just like to obviously get that bat in the lineup at some point — someplace."
Beltran, 33, has made just five starts at a corner outfield spot — two in left field, three in right field, and all in 2000 with the Royals.
A Pagan-Beltran alignment would seem to squeeze out incumbent right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who just recently broke out of a deep hitting slump. Manuel, though, said Beltran would need occasional days off as he gets back into playing shape. And, it’s possible Beltran could move back to center when Manuel wants to rest Pagan.
"It’s going to be interesting. It really will be interesting how that thing kind of manifests and kind of works itself out," Manuel said. "But it’s a good problem to have."