Mets Organization Just Doesn’t Get It As Beltran Takes Control of His Own Health

Published on: 15th January, 2010

by

Mets
Minaya Doesn't Know What Wilpon Will Do Next

Flushing, N.Y. - . Monday, October 5, 2009. Mets GM Omar Minaya talks about the Mets season. Jeff Wilpon is on the right. Photo by David Pokress / Freelance NYDN Original Filename: Mets0182.jpg  | read this item

Related News

New York – Carlos Beltran, the New York Mets star centerfielder, number three hitter, and highest-paid position player has just put a tremendous crimp in the team’s 2010 season hopes and dreams. And, the team isn’t happy about it.

Beltran, without getting the team’s permission as required by his player contract, had surgery yesterday on his right knee to relieve symptoms caused by osteo-arthritis. The surgery was performed by Dr. Richard Steadman, from Colorado.

The Mets didn’t want Beltran to have the surgery, but Beltran had it anyway and surprised the Mets by doing so. The Mets have contacted the commissioner’s office about possibly filing a grievance.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said that the Mets asked for the opportunity to at least discuss the diagnosis with a third party — and Beltran had the surgery before the team had the chance to do that. The Mets have sent a letter to Boras stating their objection to this process, Ricco said.

Ricco said that the team was not aware that Beltran had surgery on Wednesday until after the surgery was completed. The team was under the impression that they were going to continue have a discussion about options and the diagnosis, Ricco said, “and the next thing we knew he had the surgery.”

“We are disappointed that the process wasn’t followed,” said Ricco. “We’re hopeful, however, this procedure will alleviate the symptoms that prevented Carlos from playing last season.”

“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,” Beltran’s agent, Scott Boras, said.

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, they will be without one of their best players for at least the first few weeks.

Beltran’s knee, initially diagnosed last season with a bone bruise, caused the centerfielder to miss significant playing time last season. He had been examined in early December by the Mets team doctor, David Altcheck at which time further rest was prescribed. 

Instead, it looks like the Mets recent history of medical blunders with their players led Beltran to essentially tell the Mets and their doctor to stick it. There have been rumors for several years that Mets players don’t trust the opinions of the Mets’ medical staff and often seek out their own medical counsel. Upon examining Beltran’s knee, Dr. Steadman evidently convinced Beltran he could correct the symptoms and Beltran went ahead and submitted to the surgery, which was arthroscopic and not invasive in nature. 

“The surgery was a general clean up of the knee designed to alleviate the symptoms of pain Carlos has been experiencing,” said Ricco. “Like us, Dr. Altcheck is confident in Dr. Steadman’s abilities. We wanted the ability to decide this as a group before the surgery was done but now that it’s been done, we expect that Carlos will be ready to play within the prescribed time.” 

This is a disastrous development for the Mets. Beltran, 33 years old and headed into the next to last year of his contract, could easily opt to stay off the field until he feels the knee is at 100% rather than play hurt. No doubt, his agent, the cagey Boras will advise him that he’s got one more big, long-term contract left to his career and Beltran shouldn’t risk his future earnings potential by performing on a less than healed knee because of internal pressures from the Mets to get on the field.

The Mets needed breaks and good karma for this coming season, coming on the heels of  last year’s disastrous injuries to their core of stars including Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Delgado, Beltran and arguably, baseball’s top pitcher, Johan Santana. Yet, here we are, five weeks before spring training begins with their first big health issue.

Boras said Steadman spoke with Mets medical director Dr. 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.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that 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.”

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 2½ 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.

Readers Comments