PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Carlos Beltran's progress is being hindered by his knees again -- this time it's the left knee that will keep him off the field four or five days.
Beltran has left knee tendinitis, a condition that has arisen because he's been compensating for his right knee. He was limited to just 64 games last season after right knee surgery in January 2010. He also missed 81 games in '09.
"I started feeling it when I first started running here, the first couple days of spring training," Beltran said. "I felt like I was compensating, and it got worse, worse, worse, to the point where now I have to make sure it doesn't get worse than that."
Beltran will be allowed to do cardio training in a pool and on a bike but won't participate in baseball activities and will take anti-inflammatory medication.
The Mets have been taking a conservative approach to getting Beltran ready for the season. They held him out of games until Sunday, when he served as the designated hitter. The plan then was to have him play Monday, too, but he sat after saying he "was sore, but in a good way."
Manager Terry Collins had hoped he'd play Tuesday. However, the All-Star outfielder was left out of the lineup again. He was scheduled to hit in a simulated game, but that was scratched.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Beltran told him he could play under "normal circumstances."
"I think it's important to get him back on the field and get him comfortable in right field and at the plate," Alderson said. "He's anxious to do that but at the same time we've got to deal with the reality of his condition and make sure it gets dealt with immediately."
The reality is, Beltran has gone from a slick-fielding Gold Glove centerfielder to one who may never resume his role as an everyday player.
The 33-year-old Beltran has had three knee operations, both knees were done in Oct. 2007. He returned to the Mets after the All-Star break last year but had to cut his season short by a few days because of soreness in the right knee
In the final season of a $119 million, seven-year deal, Beltran has already requested he switch from center field to right because of reduced mobility in the right knee.
He did not run in the offseason but worked out to strengthen the knee. He's been running at about 80 percent so far this spring, including a second-to-home dash Sunday in a game against the Red Sox. Beltran said that slide home had nothing to do with his current problems.
He said the tendinitis is not in the area that was operated on in 2007
With opening day in April 1, the Mets feel that they have enough time to get Beltran ready for the regular season.
"He'll be ready when he's ready. We can get a guy ready in 15 days," Mets manager Terry Collins said in Kissimmee with a Mets split squad. "When he goes to those back fields and hits, I don't care if he runs to first base. It's about seeing pitches; it's about working on his swing. As long as he can hit, I don't care if he runs. I can get that stuff done another day. The aggressiveness is in getting the at-bats in, but I don't think we're going to be that aggressive on the running side."