Met’s Carlos Beltran has Knee Surgery

This year, the New York Mets are hurting before the season even starts.

Carlos Beltran had surgery on his troublesome right knee Wednesday and the All-Star center fielder is expected to miss the start of the season. His decision to have the operation also sparked a dispute about whether he had received permission from the team, and perhaps whether the surgery was needed.

Either way, it’s more bad news for the Mets, ravaged by serious injuries to several stars last year while sliding to 70-92 and fourth place in the NL East. Hoping for a fast start to the upcoming season, New York will likely be without one of its best players for at least the first few weeks.

A person with knowledge of the situation said Beltran did not obtain advance written consent from the club to have the surgery, which was performed by his personal physician, Dr. Richard Steadman, in Colorado. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Mets didn’t discuss the matter publicly.

Beltran’s agent, Scott Boras, said the guarantee language in the slugger’s contract requires advance written permission only for elective operations.

“This was necessary surgery, necessary surgery to work,” Boras told The Associated Press.

The Mets might claim that the operation was elective.

Boras said Steadman spoke with Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek on Monday and again after Beltran was examined in Colorado on Tuesday, and that Steadman obtained Altchek’s consent for the surgery.

Boras also said he called Mets executives Monday to tell them Beltran was going to see Steadman and that they should keep in touch with Altchek. The agent said he traveled to Colorado with Beltran for the exam.

The person with knowledge of the situation said Altchek was not authorized to give consent because he is not a Mets official.

“Dr. Steadman has represented to us that he spoke with the Mets’ physician and he received consent to go forward with the plan and the surgery,” Boras said. “Dr. Steadman has told us that his office contacted the Mets trainer and obtained the appropriate insurance forms and received approval for payment to go ahead with the surgery.”

The team said Beltran is expected to resume baseball activities in 12 weeks, a timetable that likely would keep him out for most of April — maybe longer.

New York’s first official workout for pitchers and catchers is a little more than five weeks away, on Feb. 20. The Mets open the season April 5 against Florida.

“The doctor said eight weeks, possibly, and a window to 12 weeks to resume baseball activities. With elite athletes, the timetable is sometimes shorter than the original prognosis,” Boras said.

In a statement released Wednesday night, the Mets said Beltran’s osteoarthritis worsened during the offseason and he decided to have arthroscopic surgery to clean out the arthritic area of his knee.

The procedure was performed by Steadman, considered one of the top knee surgeons in the world. He is noted for his work performing microfracture knee surgery on basketball players.

Beltran went to see Steadman last summer for a second opinion on his aching knee, and the doctor agreed with the Mets’ medical staff that surgery was not needed at that time.

A five-time All-Star, Beltran missed 2 1/2 months last season with a painful bone bruise on his right knee, coinciding with the team’s plunge. He returned Sept. 8 and was eased back into the everyday lineup.

The switch-hitter finished with a team-leading .325 batting average and .415 on-base percentage. He had 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

The Mets said Beltran hadn’t felt pain after the season ended or early in his offseason conditioning, but his symptoms “returned to the point where pre-spring training conditioning became too painful.”

Boras said Altchek had been examining Beltran once a month during the offseason.

“Since the beginning of November, he was feeling discomfort and pain,” Boras said. “They found some fragments in there that had to be removed.”

The persistent injury is a major concern for the Mets and Beltran, who turns 33 on April 24. He is about to enter the sixth season of a seven-year, $119 million contract he signed before 2005.

Angel Pagan got regular playing time in Beltran’s absence last season and would probably fill in again.

In addition to Beltran, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana were among the Mets stars who missed long stretches of time due to injuries last year, along with pitchers John Maine, Oliver Perez and J.J. Putz.

Reyes and Delgado went down in May and did not return. Many of the replacements got hurt, too, and New York players spent more than 1,480 days on the disabled list, more than any other major league team, according to STATS LLC.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday night. Team spokesman Jay Horwitz said the club expected to hold a conference call Thursday.

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