NEW YORK -- There was a time earlier in the season when the Mets tried to tinker with Pedro Feliciano's role, using the left-handed reliever for longer stretches and exposing him to more right-handed hitters. As a result, Feliciano began appearing in fewer games.
Realizing their mistake, though, the Mets quickly shifted Feliciano back to his old job as a lefty specialist. He began facing fewer batters and, as a result, appearing in more games. And he rapidly began approaching his own franchise record of 88 appearances.
"As soon as I pitched in 80 games and I realized that I could break my record, I told them to push me there," Feliciano said of Mets manager Jerry Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen. "I told them to push me to break my record."
Tuesday, Feliciano did so, appearing in his 89th game. So Manuel approached him to ask how he felt.
"He asked me if I wanted one more game," Feliciano said. "I told him I want six more games."
Feliciano probably won't win that argument. But the Mets would like to see him as often as possible, knowing there's a chance this may be their last look at him in a Mets uniform. Feliciano, the longest-tenured Met, is up for free agency after the season and can't be sure if he'll be back.
A quiet and steady contributor over the last eight-plus seasons, Feliciano has already made a small fortune for a lefty specialist, inking a $2.9 million contract prior to this season. Though he is 34 now, he is also coming off another typical campaign, posting a 2.79 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings and holding left-handed hitters to a .198 average.
Pitchers with his skill set tend to age slowly. So although New York is his first choice -- "This is my home," Feliciano said -- he may find himself in high demand on the open market.
"I don't know," Feliciano said. "I have to wait and see what happens."
Mets shut down Beltran, despite clean MRI
NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran's lost season has officially ended.
An MRI taken Wednesday revealed that Beltran has minor inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. Despite the fact that Beltran has suffered no new injury, the Mets have shut him down for precautionary reasons.
"I'm happy that the MRI shows the knee's better," Beltran said. "The only part that I'm not happy about is I wanted to finish the season playing."
With only four games remaining this season, that much was out of the question. The Mets must protect their assets, and Beltran spooked the team by leaving Tuesday's game after five innings with right knee discomfort. Though Wednesday's MRI revealed that his injury was not serious, the Mets have no reason to force their $119-million center fielder back into the lineup.
Beltran may soon travel to Vail, Colo., for a visit with Dr. Richard Steadman, the orthopedist who performed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in January. But given Wednesday's MRI results, the center fielder has no more reason for concern regarding the joint.
Beltran also underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees following the 2007 season.
"I feel better because I received good news about it," Beltran said. "I still feel a little bit of pain there, but in my mind, it's not getting worse."
For Beltran, though, Wednesday was also a source of disappointment. After a prolonged recovery period forced him to push his 2010 debut back until after the All-Star break, Beltran struggled both offensively and defensively for a long while, batting .211 with two home runs over his first 46 games back with the Mets.
Only recently had Beltran begun thriving, feeling no pain and hitting .353 with five home runs over his subsequent 18 games.
"It was tough trying to get the swing back," Beltran said. "Finally, I was starting to feel better at the plate. Unfortunately, it just didn't happen."
By shutting him down for the final half-week of the season, the Mets hope, Beltran will be able to attack his offseason program in Puerto Rico and strengthen his knee for Spring Training.
"The good news is that there's nothing new," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think this gives him a head start on his winter program, to get healthy. Lord knows how much he needs to get the leg right."
Entering the final season of his seven-year, $119 million deal, the 33-year-old Beltran is looking to return to the form that saw him hit .276 with a combined 76 homers in 2006 and '07.
Outfielder Nick Evans injured his left shoulder swinging in the fourth inning of Game 2 and will have an MRI Thursday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. "It felt like I dislocated it, but they think it's some strained ligaments or something," Evans said. ... Though lefty Raul Valdes appeared in both halves of Wednesday's doubleheader, he is still in line to start Saturday's game against the Nationals. ... With a two-run homer in Game 1, third baseman David Wright became the only player in Mets history to reach the 100-RBI mark five times in his career.