It was hardly shocking last night when the Mets announced that Carlos Beltran, during his visit for a post-op checkup in Colorado, had not yet been cleared for baseball activities. Beltran was overly optimistic in spring training when he hoped to be running by early April, and he even backed away from that projection on the day the Mets packed up to leave Port St. Lucie.

The bottom line is that Beltran won't be rushing back after his clash with the Mets over the decision to have the surgery in the first place. And by dealing exclusively with Dr. Steadman and his Vail clinic, Beltran is acting independently of the team's own medical staff, so he's on his own clock. And with free agency looming for him after the 2011 season, he can take his time making sure he's 100 percent for his walk year.

In the meantime, Jerry Manuel has to find a way to wake up his dormant lineup, and one idea he's floated is to move Angel Pagan to the No. 3 spot rather than Jose Reyes. Reyes finally looked like himself in Tuesday's 4-0 victory, so maybe it makes more sense to keep him atop the lineup for a little longer and try the hot-hitting Pagan there to stretch out the lineup.

With the plate problems of David Wright and Jason Bay, Manuel can't afford to keep Pagan in the lower third of the lineup. Here's an excerpt from today's column.

 

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Something has to be done until the return of Carlos Beltran, who was in Colorado this week for a post-op checkup. The Mets announced last night that Beltran is "making progress" but is "not ready for baseball activities." In other words, the club would be ecstatic to see him before the All-Star break.

 

That leaves Manuel two choices. He can a) keep telling everyone that it's only a matter of time before David Wright and Jason Bay become bona fide run-producers again or b) take a more proactive approach, buck conventional wisdom and maybe save his job in the process.