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Collins being cautious with Beltran

Terry Collins will rest Carlos Beltran (above) during

Terry Collins will rest Carlos Beltran (above) during the first week of Grapefruit League games. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Carlos Beltran participated in the Mets' first full-squad workout Monday, but regardless of how fast he progresses, Terry Collins plans to sit him for the first week of Grapefruit League games as he builds up strength around his right knee.

"I'm going to err on the side of caution on this guy," Collins said. "He's going to tell me when he's ready."

When Beltran arrived in camp Saturday, GM Sandy Alderson said they would wait on deciding where he plays - centerfield or rightfield - until Beltran completes a running program of at least a week. He did take part in agility drills Monday with his teammates but probably will go off on his own Tuesday for individual drills.

"I feel strong," Beltran said. "I don't feel anything so far."

Collins said he was impressed watching Beltran hit righthanded, which has him pushing off his right leg, the one bothered by his arthritic knee.

Ollie looks sharp

R.A. Dickey's untouchable knuckler was one of the hot topics from Monday's live batting- practice session. But Oliver Perez was another must-see performance, and after an offseason pitching in Mexico, he looked sharp. Perez got a "Good job, Ollie" from Alderson and praise from the teammates who batted against him.

"There was good cut on his cut fastball," Scott Hairston said. "He had good control."

That's unusual to hear about Perez, but now that he's in danger of being released, maybe that actually has taken some of the pressure off.

"I think he's actually come to peace with himself," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "He's just going to throw the ball over the plate and see what happens."

Jason Isringhausen, a little more than a year removed from his third Tommy John surgery, also threw BP.

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