Beltran had arthroscopic surgery on that arthritic knee on Jan. 13. Still, he actually expressed encouragement after team doctors reviewed an MRI on Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Beltran said that while inflammation and pain exist, the troublesome bone bruise that has tormented him in recent years actually had lessened in the latest images.
Beltran left Tuesday's series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers after experiencing discomfort.
"I felt pain yesterday, and today I felt a little bit of pain walking around," Beltran said. "So the doctor said it's a little bit inflamed, but actually he said the bone bruise, everything looks better than the past MRIs. So I'm happy for that part. The only thing I'm not happy about is just that I wanted to finish the season playing."
Beltran could not pinpoint anything specific that might have triggered the flare-up.
"[The doctor] said sometimes I might twist the knee or something," Beltran said. "But I don't recall twisting the knee. I just recall when I was taking the lead off first base yesterday after I ran, I felt a pinch in the knee."
Beltran intends to have the Vail, Colo., doctors who performed his surgery eight months ago review the latest medical images. He was unaware if he would need to be examined there in person.
Beltran suggested his offseason regimen to prepare for 2011 would be unchanged by the late-season knee issue. During the second half of the season, Beltran actually had been experiencing more trouble with his left knee -- the one that was not addressed surgically. The belief is that he developed tendinitis in the left knee by overcompensating for the right knee troubles.
"I will continue with the same plan," Beltran said about his offseason training in Puerto Rico. "I will continue to rehab my knee and get strong and be ready for next year."
Beltran, 33, missed the entire first half of this season recovering from the surgery to clean out his right knee. When he returned, he struggled to regain his sharpness, and his mobility in the outfield was not the same as earlier in his career. Beltran had shown more recent signs of life, batting .358 over his final 18 games. Still, overall, Beltran hit .255 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 220 at-bats.
"It was tough trying to get the swing back," Beltran said. "Finally, I was starting to feel better at the plate. Unfortunately, this thing happened."
Beltran's mobility is at least somewhat restricted by wearing a brace on the surgically repaired right knee. The outfielder offered no indication he would be able to shed that brace next year, in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets.
"Right now, so far, from what I have heard from the doctor in Colorado is that I have to wear it," Beltran said.
The Mets may look to trade Beltran this offseason. However, because he is owed $18.5 million in 2011 and has knee issues, the Mets likely would have to heavily subsidize Beltran playing elsewhere -- not something the organization typically has been willing to do with players it hopes to trade.
If Beltran's mobility continues to be hampered next season and he remains, the Mets may have to consider using Angel Pagan in center field and Beltran in right field. However, the Mets are not at that point yet. And with front-office turnover expected, personnel not yet hired may ultimately make that decision.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.