Forced to defend himself against accusations made by his own team, Carlos Beltran responded last night by saying the Mets not only knew about his surgery but that general manager Omar Minaya went so far as to wish him luck the day before he had the procedure.
"I also spoke to Omar Minaya about the surgery on Tuesday," Beltran said in a statement released by agent Scott Boras' office. "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."
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Beltran's words in the statement make it seem as if the biggest problem here was a lack of communication within the Mets' front office rather than insubordination by the centerfielder and his agent.
Hours after assistant general manager John Ricco told reporters on a conference call of the Mets' disappointment in Beltran and his agent for ignoring their request to delay the arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Beltran said no one from the Mets made such a request until he already was being operated on.
"I am totally surprised by the reaction to my recent knee surgery," he said. "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."
Efforts to reach Minaya last night were unsuccessful. Mets spokeman Jay Horwitz said the team chose not to comment on Beltran's statement.
At issue is the timeline of events; the timeline Ricco provided reporters Thursday does not jibe with the timeline that Beltran gave in his statement.
Everyone agrees that Beltran had permission to visit noted orthopedist Richard Steadman in Colorado on Tuesday, and that he recommended surgery.
After that, things get murky.
Ricco, who spoke on behalf of the Mets because Minaya and Jeff Wilpon were flying back from the owners' meetings in Arizona, said the Mets made a request to Boras in the afternoon to hold off on surgery so they could consult with their own doctor. Ricco said a follow-up call was made to Boras later in the evening to say they had not been able to reach their doctors.
But Beltran's statement said Steadman consulted with Mets physician David Altchek, who "agreed with Dr. Steadman's diagnosis that I needed surgery and said he would relay his approval to Mets management." Boras, in an interview with The Associated Press, said Mets trainer Ray Ramirez provided the proper insurance paperwork needed for the clinic to go ahead with Beltran's surgery.
Yet Ricco said the Mets called Boras again Wednesday morning, this time bringing up their interest in sending their centerfielder to another doctor for a third opinion. But according to Beltran's statement, he already was undergoing the arthroscopic procedure as the two sides talked.
The Mets were at the very least contemplating their potential legal avenues for recourse yesterday; Ricco said the Mets sent a letter to Boras detailing their issue with the surgery.
"We're just reserving our rights under the contract," he said. "Where it goes from here, we're not sure right now."
Mets' 2009 injury flashbacks
At first sidelined with what the Mets described as right calf tendinitis, Reyes suffered a hamstring tendon tear in early June only a day before he was set to come off the disabled list. Reyes never returned and suffered a torn hamstring muscle during rehab in September. Had surgery to clean up scar tissue in the hamstring area in October.
Returning from 2008 surgery to repair a bone spur in his right shoulder, he never seemed to recover, and was diagnosed with everything from shoulder fatigue to a pinched nerve as he received multiple cortisone shots. After a three-month rehab, Maine returned in September.
The Mets knew his torn hip labrum eventually would need surgery. His season ended May 19 after arthroscopic surgery.
Came to the Mets from Seattle with a bone spur in his right elbow. His only season in Flushing ended June 9 after surgery to remove the spur and bone fragments.
When asked about his knee problems, he couldn't identify which knee, which cast suspicion on the Mets' diagnosis. He landed on the DL twice with patellar tendinitis of the right knee. Had surgery Sept. 1 to remove scar tissue.