PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Carlos Beltran acknowledged Saturday a move to right field could prolong his career.
But after reporting to New York Mets camp and meeting with general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, the group decided to table that topic for a week to 10 days while Beltran undergoes a running program that will include circling the bases to see how his balky right knee responds.
Beltran missed the first half of last season after undergoing surgery on Jan. 13, 2010, to clean out his right knee. He has an underlying chronic condition, however. And after experiencing restricted mobility in center field upon returning last season, Beltran halted playing with a week remaining and the Mets long eliminated from the race.
Collins has indirectly indicated his preference is for Beltran to play right field and Angel Pagan to play center, not the opposite alignment.
Beltran, who is entering the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract, sounded like he was moving toward that conclusion as well.
"If I feel good physically and my knee is responding well, and I'm moving well out there, then I would love to play center field," Beltran said. "But, at the same time, in my mind this is not my last year in the big leagues. I want to play for many more years. ... I understand if my knee is causing me problems and it's best for me in the long term of my career to move to right field, in which I have to run less than center field, then I have to make that move also. But, at the same time, I told Terry, I told Sandy that I would give them a better answer once I finish my running program."
Beltran said he worked during the winter to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. He expressed optimism that last year's knee issues wouldn't resurface. He plans to continue to wear a brace, although he did not use it Saturday because it needs to be resized.
"Basically I did more agility exercises than a running program," Beltran said about his offseason. "Here I would love to run the bases, move myself in the outfield. That was something that it wasn't a priority for me because what was a priority for me was strengthening my quad. ... Everything came out well in the offseason. Now it's time for me to move myself around, run the bases. Once I start doing that, like I said, I will have a better idea of where I am."
Beltran, 33, acknowledged right field would be an adjustment. He has started three major league games at the position, compared with 1,563 in center field and two in left field.
"It's going to be an adjustment because of the view you have," Beltran said. "I think when I played right field was when I signed in 1995. I played winter ball in Puerto Rico 15 years ago. So I don't know how that looks, you know?"
Beltran mentioned less wear and tear on his knee could prolong his career.
"I don't plan to be this year my last year in the big leagues," he said. "I want to play for many more years. If it is best for Carlos, for the team, to move to right, [I'm] all for that. But in order for me to make that decision, I have to give myself a chance."
Alderson indicated there could be a decision on center field or right field at the end of the seven- to 10-day period. Or, at that point, it could be resolved simply to take a look at Beltran in center field in Grapefruit League games and gauge his mobility.
The Mets open exhibition play next Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. Beltran will not be in the lineup that soon.
"We meet again and will discuss it at that point," Alderson said.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.