ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Carlos Beltran called the injury “nothing major,” but Joe Girardi wasn’t ready to guarantee a return to the lineup Sunday.
Girardi replaced the 39-year-old rightfielder in the bottom of the sixth inning of Saturday’s 9-5 loss to the Rays, saying the area in the shoulder below his right scapula “knotted up.”
“We’ll see where he’s at,” Girardi said of Beltran’s availability for Sunday’s game, one in which the manager originally had planned to use him as the designated hitter after two straight days in the field.
Beltran said he felt the discomfort before his third at-bat, which occurred in the sixth inning.
“It was tight but nothing major,” he said. “I’m going to come in [Sunday], and if it feels sore, I’ll continue to get treatment and then I’ll be ready to go . . . One of those things when you play baseball. Things like that are going to happen.”
In his second at-bat, Beltran hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. It was his 12th of the season and the 2,500th hit of his career.
It was part of an eventful day for the outfielder, who misplayed a looping two-out single by Brad Miller in the second inning into a triple. Two pitches later, Evan Longoria’s two-run homer made it 5-0.
Beltran wasn’t celebrating hit No. 2,500, though he acknowledged the achievement.
“It means a lot, it’s a great accomplishment,” said Beltran, who joined Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays as the only players in baseball history with 2,500 hits, 400 homers, 300 stolen bases and 1,000 walks. “But right now we’re trying to win ballgames. That’s the main focus. I thank God that He’s allowed me to play this game for a long time and I have been able to accomplish some good things, but it would have been greater if we won this one.”
Beltran, who has hit eight homers in 69 at-bats in his last 19 games since May 9 — the most in the majors in that span — became the 99th player and fourth Puerto Rican to reach 2,500 career hits.
“Congratulations to him. As I’ve said, I believe he’s a Hall of Famer,” Girardi said. “He’s meant a lot to this team and to this organization and to the game of baseball. And he’s meant so much to the game of baseball because of his willingness to give back to communities and to young players and what he does in Puerto Rico.”