CHICAGO - Carlos Beltran cleared his most significant hurdle to date this weekend in Port St. Lucie by finally running the bases. That could be the last step, in a physical sense, for Beltran, who has been on the disabled list since June 22 with a bone bruise below his right knee.
Next up for Beltran is another MRI, likely at some point this week, in the hope that the bruise has decreased in size. The Mets are optimistic because Beltran has been working out pain-free and the All-Star centerfielder wants to finish the season with a few games under his belt as he heads into the winter.
Beltran, 32, has two years remaining on the $119-million contract he signed before the 2005 season. After seeking a second opinion, Beltran was told that he does not immediately require microfracture surgery for the injured knee. But in two previous MRIs, the second in July, the bruise had not diminished in size.
The Mets also have not closed the door on a return by Carlos Delgado, who suffered a strained oblique muscle during his rehab from hip surgery and has yet to resume baseball activities. Delgado will be a free agent, giving him more reason to return, but he has not played since landing on the DL on May 16.
Parnell still a starter
Despite Saturday's beatdown by the Cubs, Bobby Parnell will stay in the rotation for a rematch with Chicago on Friday at Citi Field. Parnell is 1-4 with a 10.29 ERA in five starts since he switched to the rotation Aug. 8, but Jerry Manuel is not ready to pull the plug yet.
"Obviously, we don't have any other choices," Manuel said. "I think this is important in his development."
Wright to don new helmet
David Wright plans to try the new Rawlings helmet when he returns from the disabled list for tomorrow's game at Coors Field, but he has to make sure it fits first.
Equipment manager Charlie Samuels has had the more protective model for the past week, but it's produced only in limited sizes because the company has not had the chance to make customized versions yet.
Wright is coming back from a concussion, and though some players have balked at the helmet's bigger size and weight, he doesn't seem to mind. Said the third baseman, "I don't think a helmet is going to affect if I can hit or not."