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NEW YORK -- Moments after he took a foul ball of the inside of his right shin, Carlos Beltran was dizzy, queasy and in a lot of pain. And the 21,015 on hand at Citi Field on Sunday night were no doubt fearing for the worst.
"It was bad. I've hurt myself like that before ... but not like today. Today was bad," Beltran said.
Fortunately for the New York Mets and their beleaguered fan base, X-rays revealed that Beltran had suffered a right leg contusion, and not a more debilitating injury. He may return to the lineup as early as the Mets' next game on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
"It's a relief that this might take a day or two and I can be back in the lineup again," Beltran said after the Mets' 6-4 win over Atlanta.
Beltran left the game in the bottom of the second inning after he fouled a Tim Hudson fastball off of his shin. The ball cracked his shin guard and left Beltran with a bad bruise.
Beltran winced after getting hit by the foul ball. He staggered behind home plate and was tended to by Mets trainer Ray Ramirez as manager Terry Collins and third base coach Chip Hale looked on.
Beltran eventually got back in the batter's box. After striking out, he used the railing to get down the steps in the dugout, keeping his right leg in the air. He spoke with Collins before leaving the game.
"He said I don't think I can go and he has never said that one time this year. So I know it was bothering him," Collins said.
Jason Pridie, who began the night starting in left field, replaced Beltran in right field. Willie Harris replaced Pridie in left. If Beltran is unavailable for Tuesday's game, Collins said Pridie will replace him in right field.
Beltran's health had been a pleasant surprise for the Mets this season. He was hitting .284 with nine homers and 33 RBIs before he left Sunday's game. Entering play on Sunday night, Beltran was tied for the major league lead for doubles with 18. He added another in the top of the first, driving in Jose Reyes for the Mets' first run.
Prior to the regular season, Beltran was projected to rest periodically to maintain the health of his chronically injured knees. Entering Sunday night, he had played in 56 of the Mets' 58 games. He got injured in No. 59.
The Mets have been decimated by injuries to their top players this season. David Wright (back) and Ike Davis (foot) are currently out for at least the rest of the month. Johan Santana (left shoulder) isn't expected to return until mid-July at the earliest. Jason Bay (rib cage) and Angel Pagan (rib cage) have also spent time on the disabled list. Pitcher Chris Young is lost for the season due to a right shoulder injury.Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo contributed to this report.