NEW YORK -- Help isn't coming anytime soon for the banged-up New York Mets.
Shortstop Jose Reyes had a cortisone shot Tuesday because he still feels pain in his right leg, and center fielder Carlos Beltran will need a rehabilitation assignment once the bone bruise below his right knee subsides. He won't even be re-examined until the All-Star break, when he'll have an MRI.
New York (39-43) has lost nine of 11 following Tuesday night's 8-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a homestand opener, dropping into fourth place in the NL East.
"Sometimes you lose focus and things go wrong, you know, totally wrong," said Beltran, who has watched games on television from his basement. "With the team that we have now, we can play a lot better than what we're playing, that's for sure. You know, if you watch the games, you know that they're plays we should be making."
Before the game, the Mets practiced calling for popups -- a problem this season.
"It's not necessarily a punishment. These have been things we've been planning to do," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "It was just addressing some issues that have gone wrong for us that we haven't had a chance to address."
New York, trying to contend in its first season at Citi Field, had hoped to get some injured starters back at the start of the second half.
"It's hard for me to give you specific dates," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "You know it's not going to happen the next day after the All-Star Game. The guys are going to have to probably go out there and you know, strengthen their legs and, you know, play some games, get some at-bats. What timeframe that is, I just don't know that."
Beltran hasn't played since June 21 and has been limited to working on a bicycle and in a pool. He was elected to start Tuesday's All-Star Game in St. Louis but will not go.
He has undergone platelet rich plasma therapy in which blood is removed, platelets are separated in a centrifuge and then re-injected.
"Sometimes I feel it," Beltran said of the bruise. "Sometimes walking I do feel it."
Reyes, sidelined since May 20, can now hit right-handed but still can't accelerate without pain.
"He has pushed it and in pushing it, it definitely tightened up some," Minaya said.
First baseman Carlos Delgado is just starting to swing off a tee following hip surgery on May 19. Right-hander John Maine, out since June 6 because of shoulder pain, is still limited to throwing on flat ground.
"Delgado, we're talking about the middle of August. We hope that these other guys are before that. And hopefully, John Maine is before Carlos Delgado," Minaya said.
Setup man J.J. Putz hasn't started throwing following surgery June 9 to remove a bone spur and fragments of bone from his right elbow and likely won't return until late August or early September. Former closer Billy Wagner also could return around the final month; he is throwing to batters in his rehabilitation from elbow ligament replacement surgery last Sept. 10.
On the plus side, left-hander Oliver Perez, sidelined with knee tendinitis, is set to start Wednesday night in his first big league appearance since May 2.
"I'd like to see good life on his pitches," Manuel said. "All the reports that I've gotten is that he's really throwing the ball well."
Since Beltran's last game the Mets have lost 10 of 15 and hit .229, scoring three runs or fewer in 11 games, including four shutouts and three one-run games. David Wright batted 11-for-55 (.200) with one homer, three RBIs, 15 strikeouts and three grounded into double plays, dropping his average from .349 to .322. That included an 0-for-22 with eight strikeouts and three GIDPs as the Mets went 0-6 against the Yankees and Phillies the last two weekends.
New York remained 4½ games behind first-place Philadelphia.
"When we were playing terrible, you know, no one really took advantage of anything," Beltran said.
Minaya said there haven't been any viable trade opportunities because so many teams remain in playoff contention.
"The biggest mistake I've seen sometimes general managers make is when they feel urgency, they make big mistakes," Minaya said. "There's not this magic bullet that you bring in here."
New York's farm system was weakened by trades to acquire Delgado and Johan Santana. Minaya wants to preserve his best prospects.
"I have to keep an eye not only on '09, but I have to keep an eye on '10, '11 and '12," he said.