Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran speaks with Jose Reyes in the...

Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran speaks with Jose Reyes in the clubhouse after arriving for spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Carlos Beltran did not receive clearance to run on April 20 during his follow-up exam at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo. But according to a friend of Beltran's, the Mets' $119-million centerfielder was outfitted with a custom brace for his surgically repaired right knee in the hope that it would help in the rehab process.

Omar Minaya confirmed Tuesday that Beltran had returned to Port St. Lucie, Fla. with the brace, but added that he still is not close to running, the next major step in what has become a decelerated rehab program. Beltran has temporarily used a brace for his right knee in each of the past seasons before getting a doctor's approval to play without one.

In those circumstances, however, Beltran was on the verge of returning to the lineup. That does not appear to be the case this time. After Beltran's visit to Colorado, the Mets said he was "making progress" but not enough for him to attempt running. A person close to him also doubted that he would be back before the All-Star break.

Beltran was optimistic at the end of spring training that he would be running by the second week of April. When he first had the surgery in January, the Mets said he would need roughly 12 weeks before he could start baseball activity, targeting early April.

So Beltran has been delayed. He has been forced to have two operations on the same knee in the span of 27 months, and if his condition does not improve, the more invasive microfracture surgery may be necessary.


Bernazard speaks

Tony Bernazard, the former Mets vice president of player development, said the team used him as a "scapegoat" in firing him last season.

"If you're going to give in to the outside pressure of the media and find it easy to sacrifice some people . . . if that's the way you do business, that's the way you do business," Bernazard told Tuesday. "If you were so naive to believe the stuff that you hear, that's up to them. What happened to the organization . . . you have to create some kind of scapegoat, whatever term you want to use."

The Mets' reaction to Bernazard's comments was a one-sentence statement. "It's old news and we wish Tony the best," a team spokesman said.

Bernazard also denied that he took off his shirt or challenged any minor-leaguers to a fight.

"I got on the team," Bernazard said. "Yes, I did. I reprimanded the team for violating rules. But what is the Mets' history when things don't go right? They pick somebody, sometimes one person, sometimes other people. I was it."

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