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Sunday, June 12, 2011
TC uses late innings to conserve Beltran

By Adam Rubin

Carlos Beltran’s cranky knees prompted him to shut down his 2010 season with a week to go. They barely allowed him to appear in the Grapefruit League. And they prompted Terry Collins to rest Beltran in the matinee games of the first four series of this season.

And yet Beltran has now played in 63 games this year, one more than Jose Reyes for the most by a Met -- not exactly a foreseeable development.

Beltran has not missed a start since May 14 in Houston, when he was scratched with eye inflammation, although he also was forced to leave last Sunday’s game at Citi Field in the third inning after fouling a ball off his shin.

As a result of the workload, Collins now has resorted to pulling Beltran late in games when the opportunity allows.

On Friday in Pittsburgh, Jason Pridie replaced Beltran in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner with the Mets leading by seven runs. Then again Sunday, Pridie pinch-ran for Beltran in the eighth, after Beltran’s two-run double had given the Mets a four-run lead en route to a 7-0 win.

“I know it’s only a couple of innings, but it’s a couple of innings off his legs,” Collins said. “He comes in and he ices them. For me it keeps him in the lineup. And especially on days like this where we had a big lead and it was hot, ‘Hey, look, you’ve done your job. We’ll pick it up for you.’”

As positive as Beltran remaining in the lineup has been, scouts do have tempered enthusiasm. They do see him a shade of his former self in moving around in the outfield. (Mike Piazza, in Beltran's first spring training as a Met, described him as a "gazelle.") And Beltran had not officially attempted a steal this year until Saturday, when he took third base on a double-steal with Daniel Murphy in the fifth inning. Beltran has 290 swipes in his career and a successs rate of 88.1 percent.