BOSTON - It took Carlos Beltran 16 years to play in his first World Series game, and he lasted all of two innings.
The Cardinals rightfielder left Game 1 Wednesday night with a right rib contusion but was determined not to let that be the final word on his 2013 season.
So a night after suffering the injury while crashing into Fenway Park's low rightfield wall while stealing a grand slam from David Ortiz, Beltran was back in the starting lineup for Game 2, playing right and batting second.
"Obviously, you have to give it a shot,'' Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said before the game. "If he can go, it would be a great help. If he can't, I don't think we'll leave him in there.''
The switch-hitting Beltran lined an opposite-field single to left in the first inning against John Lackey. He grounded to second in the third and flied to center in the sixth. His single to right off lefthander Craig Breslow with two outs and a runner on third in the seventh gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.
There was disappointment in the Cardinals' clubhouse after the Game 1 loss. Some of it was for the way things went for Beltran, who is exceedingly popular among his teammates.
And they felt that way about him even before he hit two homers and contributed 12 RBIs in the NLDS and the NLCS.
"The team has been on a mission to get me to this point, and I really appreciate that,'' Beltran said after the NLCS Game 6 victory over the Dodgers that sent the Cardinals to the Series. "They really want me to win a World Series. They really want me to play in a World Series. It just really means a lot. They care, and we all care about each other.''
Mozeliak said that in the immediate moments after Game 1, he was "50-50'' that the 36-year-old Beltran would be able to play Thursday night.
Beltran left Game 1 after two innings and was taken to a hospital, where he received a CT scan and X-rays. The tests came back negative, but that was no guarantee Beltran would be able to play.
He would have to pass several tests, the most important being how he felt while swinging a bat. That came in the indoor cages several hours before the first pitch.
"We still had to have him swing the bat, see how he felt,'' Mozeliak said. "So you can't replicate that in a hotel room. Right now he says he feels good.''
The GM was not shocked that Beltran would be giving it a try.
"It shows you how bad he wants to play in this,'' Mozeliak said. "Obviously, a guy with his career and it took him so long to get to the World Series and in the second inning to be taken out of the game, I think obviously he was disappointed. But I know he's worked very hard in the last 20 hours to get back to this point. Hopefully, it works out for him.''
Jon Jay, who started in centerfield for the Cardinals, said playing with any kind of rib injury is a challenge.
"It's difficult,'' said Jay, who went to centerfield Wednesday when Beltran got hurt, with Shane Robinson shifting from center to right.
"I think in baseball you're always playing with some type of ailment. But a bruised rib definitely [affects you]. I've never had that personally, but as an outfielder, I know Shane and myself, we've run into walls before and it bangs you up a little bit. But definitely it goes from player to player. But you could tell that Carlos was in some pain. Each case it varies . . . But hopefully he can be able to contribute.''