Clubhouse Confidential: Beltran's decision

In this bonus edition of Clubhouse Confidential, Bryan Hoch examines Carlos Beltran's decision to play through a fractured cheek; Mike Cameron's jersey in the dugout; Steve Trachsel's situation and more: (Premium Content)

When we were whisked into the old Jets locker room at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Carlos Beltran in tow, no one was quite sure what the announcement would be.

Having seen the Mets outfielder in his horrific crash with Mike Cameron last week in San Diego, and given the fact that Cameron was still laid up in a hospital bed on the West Coast, it wasn't too far a stretch to think that both of their seasons might be over.

Word had leaked earlier in the week that Beltran had suffered a minor facial fracture – nothing compared to the three fractures and a broken nose Cameron suffered – but also nothing to scoff at, especially given its location (approximately the same area as the bloody scuff near Beltran's left eye).

So give Beltran credit for being a true gamer, a team player and a responsible part of the club when he announced Tuesday that he was going to remain on the Mets' active roster, hoping to play this week against Pittsburgh. But also understand why one media person huffed at the announcement and said, "What is he, crazy?"

"The doctors gave me options," Beltran said. "I could have had surgery. I decided not to have surgery. I want to be out there with my teammates."

And the Mets are a better club with Carlos Beltran in center field than Gerald Williams, who probably will be remembered in club lore as the guy who didn't grab the 23rd out of Pedro Martinez's first no-hit attempt as a Met.

But with Beltran needing a special batting helmet and what manager Willie Randolph called a "football-looking apparatus" (a face mask to you and I) to guard the left side of his face, is this really a safe and wise experiment?

"He's a reckless type of guy playing," Cliff Floyd said. "I just hope he's making the right decision."

Beltran said the worst case scenario could be that, at some point down the road, he might have trouble opening and closing his jaw. He downplayed it, but let's be honest, eating is kind of an important task in all of our day-to-day lives.

Having the minor incision to replace the chipped bone would only knock Beltran out of action for a week or two, but with the Mets teetering on the brink of the Wild Card chase, apparently the risk is too great not to take.

"I think our doctors feel it's something that's not risky," Minaya said.

Even Randolph seemed non-plussed about Beltran's decision to stay active, saying, "I expect that from my men," saying the team wouldn't get a boost from Beltran gritting it out, and comparing Beltran's injury to a sprained wrist. What?

"He understands his responsibility," Randolph said. "He wants to be accountable."

"I guess," Beltran said, "right now is not the time."

* * *

Seeing Cameron's No. 44 jersey hanging in the Mets dugout Tuesday was eerie. The last time I recall seeing an empty uniform hanging in tribute, it was the St. Louis Cardinals' dugout and Darryl Kile's No. 57.

Not to downplay Cameron's injuries, which are certainly serious, but thankfully they're not life-threatening. Cliff Floyd said that he believed the jersey had been raised by one of the Mets' trainers, Ray Ramirez or Mike Herbst.

"It's cool to see," Floyd said. "I just can't wait for him to get here."

* * *

Make no mistake about it, Steve Trachsel was not happy about being told that his spot in the rotation was being held by Jae Seo.

Trachsel had been told earlier that this was the week he'd be back off the disabled list – Minaya even pegged the Pittsburgh series as a benchmark a few weeks back – but with Seo having allowed one run in 15-1/3 innings against the Cubs and Dodgers, and Randolph finding a six-man rotation unappealing, there is absolutely no reason to wedge Trachsel in.

"What am I going to do? Tell them to put me in Pedro's spot?" Trachsel said.

So, instead of Shea Stadium, Trachsel will empty his arm on Thursday at Toledo for Triple-A Norfolk. Trachsel said he and Randolph discussed a bullpen stint for "about two seconds" before dismissing the idea altogether.

"It wouldn't be fair to throw a guy who's started almost his whole career like that in the bullpen," Randolph said.

* * *

Kris Benson and Lloyd McClendon don't exchange Christmas cards. Big deal. That's about the extent of their relationship – two guys who weren't particularly fond of each other on the Pirates, who are now separated and continuing their professional lives. Just guessing here, but it's a safe bet that McClendon isn't the first thing on Benson's mind in the morning, and vice versa. For those looking to construct a feud, a better match can be found than these two.

Benson said in his post-game discussion with reporters that he "pretty much" wanted to just put Pittsburgh behind him. Later, I asked if he felt the Steel City would ever be totally in the rear-view mirror.

"Not a doubt," Benson said. "I have friends over there still that I love to talk and keep in contact with, and I have nothing but good things to say about the team members over there. I think that alone keeps my spirits up against the Pirates."

* * *

Sorry to see Todd Hundley suffering another brush with the law.

In a season when Mike Piazza is being sent off by Mets fans with curtain calls for items seemingly as minute as fouling off a 0-2 pitch, let's not forget there was a pre-Piazza era at Shea Stadium, and Hundley owned it. Hundley's career and life have not been in the best shape since leaving New York; here's hoping it all works out sooner or later.

Inside Pitch managing editor Bryan Hoch appears every Friday with Clubhouse Confidential, an inside look at the New York Mets organization. E-mail Bryan at metsinsidepitch@aol.com.


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