No pain, one drain for Beltran

NEW YORK – As soon as the ball left Carlos Beltran's bat in the fifth inning, rocketing off toward the right-field corner, he knew he had a chance at three bases.

A Beltran triple might have been a physical impossibility two weeks ago, or even two days ago.

But after having fluid drained from his troubled right leg on Monday – the inflamed aftermath of the Mets' rainy night in Washington six weeks ago – Beltran could tell early on that Tuesday was going to be a good day.

Each morning since the May 1 game at RFK Stadium, Beltran said he has climbed out of bed and tested his right quadriceps. Each time, Beltran has felt tightness or soreness.

Finally, that wasn't the case preceding Tuesday's 8-3 win over the Phillies, as 8 cc's of fluid from Beltran's knee resided not within his body, but in a test tube somewhere, long gone and soon forgotten.

"I'd been able to play with it for a month and a half," Beltran said. "I'm looking forward to it feeling like that for a long time."

Before the Mets visited Philadelphia last week, Mike Cameron returned to New York and had even more fluid drained from his injured right knee. The result? Cameron was healthy enough to contribute some Gold Glove defense to the Mets' attack in the Bronx over the weekend.

Following that same mold, Beltran had the procedure done on Monday. After rapping his second hit of the game following a third-inning double, Beltran decided to test his speed on an extra-base hit off Geoff Geary in the fifth, one of four good at-bats on the night from the Mets centerfielder.

Consider that test passed, as Beltran tripled for - unbelievably - the first time this season. Forget team leader Jose Reyes, who has eight three-base hits this year; Beltran's first triple of the year ties him for second on the club with such non-speed-demons as David Wright, Victor Diaz and Tuesday's starting pitcher, Victor Zambrano.

"[Beltran]'s happy, he looks comfortable," said Cliff Floyd. "That's the key."

"I hope I can continue to do this, steal bases and do the things that make me happy," Beltran said.

If Beltran's legs are healthy, there's no doubt that National League catchers will have to keep an eye out. Beltran has stolen 83 bases over the last two seasons, but swiped just one as a Met after playing most of the season at an estimated 75 to 80 percent health rate.

"He'll steal 30 to 40 bases when he's right," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He brings energy. He plays with a different type of intensity."

"That's what I need to do," Beltran said. "I need to be consistent. That's what's going to have me gain confidence."

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