Rehabbing Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran has reportedly been cleared for...

Rehabbing Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran has reportedly been cleared for "light jogging" this week. Credit: Charles Eckert

CLEVELAND - Carlos Beltran played in another simulated game Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, but his return to the Mets does not seem to be imminent.

According to a person who has seen Beltran run, the injured centerfielder still has a visible limp from his surgically repaired knee. A minor-league rehab assignment still is at least a week away.

"He's still not all there," Mets general manager Omar Minaya told reporters here before last night's game. "There's progress. But we're not there yet."

Beltran had five plate appearances and played two innings in centerfield. Jerry Manuel had said last week he hoped Beltran might be able to return as early as the Subway Series this weekend, but Beltran won't even be out of simulated games by the time the Mets face the Yankees.

Minaya said July still seems to be the target for Beltran's return. "I'm confident. I believe he is [coming back this season]," Minaya said. "Hopefully, he'll be back as a July add-on. That's a pretty good add-on."


More time for Carter?

Chris Carter was the designated hitter, something Manuel said Carter would do for the bulk of the remaining interleague road games.

And if Carter, who had three-run homers in each of his previous two games, can stay hot, Manuel said he'd have no trouble shuffling his outfielders to make room for Carter when the Mets return to NL play.

"We'd have to sit [Jeff] Francoeur or Jason Bay," Manuel said. "If [Carter's] on a roll, I'd have to find a spot for him to keep him going. I think Jason Bay can even play center, if he's a guy that's hot."


Extra bases

Manuel said John Maine, who threw four scoreless innings for Double-A Binghamton on Sunday, would almost certainly return to the Mets as a starter. Maine will have either one or two more rehab starts . . . Luis Castillo (foot) is just beginning to work out in Port St. Lucie . . . Gary Matthews Jr. cleared waivers and was officially released.

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