Carlos Beltran won't be back on the field until Thursday in San Francisco, but he was back at Citi Field Sunday, eager to rejoin his Mets teammates and ready to put all the problems of the past year behind him.
"I don't expect to come here and rake," he said. "I just expect to come here and do my part, contribute any way I can. I believe I can."
Beltran said his most recent MRI exam showed some improvement in one area of his right knee where bone bruises have kept him out for more than a year, aside from 20 games at the end of last season. But he said there has been no improvement in the other affected area.
Even that won't slow him down, though. Beltran said he asked the front office to allow him to return at the beginning of last week rather than waiting until after the All-Star break, but he was denied. "I was ready to be back, but that was something they decided. I cannot go against it," he said. "They felt that me taking those extra days in Port St. Lucie was going to make a difference for me to be ready for the second half."
Beltran said he doesn't know how many days per week he can play. Beginning Thursday, the plan is for him to play centerfield and hit cleanup, with Angel Pagan moving over to right and Jeff Francoeur essentially becoming the fourth outfielder.
"I'm here, ready to go, so Jerry will figure it out what [the timetable is]," Beltran said. "He said he will ask me also how I feel. When I play in Port St. Lucie, I don't know how many days in a row, I didn't feel I needed to have a day off."
The biggest impediment facing Beltran is the brace on his knee. It doesn't allow for full range of motion, and Beltran said he's looking forward to the day when he won't have to wear it.
"It's not comfortable, but it doesn't limit me to run," he said. "It's a little bit hard to bend it. But when I'm running full speed, I can't notice I have a brace . . . It would be great if I could come out of that because I feel like I would have better motion out there, but I want to follow what he said, and if it's good for me to wear it and it's gonna protect my knee, then I need to get used to it."
He also said he's past any disagreement he had with the Mets about his surgery in January.
"I turned that page. That's part of the past," he said. "I'm looking forward to being here, being with the team and to help this organization accomplish a goal of winning the division and go to the playoffs and try to win a championship. That's the mentality since I signed with the organization, and it's not going to change."