WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. - In a tree-lined Class A ballpark about 80 miles north of Citi Field, Carlos Beltran attempted the next step on his lengthy path back to the Mets before their lost season comes to a close. And it went rather well.

The five-time All-Star tested his right knee last night by manning centerfield for the first time since June 21. Beltran played five innings for the Brooklyn Cyclones in their 5-4 New York-Penn League loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades before a sellout crowd of 5,168 at Dutchess Stadium.

He caught one ball and fielded two others, nothing really strenuous. But he provided a very encouraging progress report afterward.

Here was his happy recap from the clubhouse:

"I feel good. I didn't feel anything. It was just good to be out there. It's been a long time that I wasn't able to play in the outfield. So today was a very good day for me. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, see how I wake up tomorrow. I probably will feel a little bit sore - not my knee, my body.''


This marked his second rehab game after being sidelined about 10 weeks with a bone bruise.

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Beltran went 0-for-2 with a walk after going 1-for-3 with a walk as the DH Wednesday at KeySpan Park.

"After every game, they'll evaluate,'' Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said from Denver. "Then it's two things. It's the physical, the skill part. That's really in his court. As long as the physical continues to be fine, then it's going to be totally on him whether he feels ready to come back.''

Beltran expects to remain with the playoff-bound Cyclones through the end of their regular season. There are three games left, a series against Lowell that begins Friday night in Brooklyn. He said a decision hasn't been made on whether he will play center or DH in the opener.

"I'm not favoring it,'' Beltran said of the knee. "I feel strong. [From] when the season started this year, now I feel double stronger because I've been working hard every day.''

His ultimate goal on the rehab tour is to play nine innings and feel no soreness the next day.

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"I don't have urgency,'' Beltran said. "I just want to be back. I'm just doing everything I have to do to rehab myself and be with the team. I just love to play baseball. If I'm good to play, then I'll be there.''

With David Lennon