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Mets' star centerfielder ready to play after scary collision with fence
By TIMES WIRES
Published September 4, 2006
HOUSTON - Carlos Beltran said his bruised left knee felt "a lot better" the morning after he crashed into the fence in left- centerfield at Minute Maid Park making a leaping catch.
"I can bend my knee better," the Mets centerfielder said Sunday. "I still feel pressure. But I feel a lot better from yesterday to today."
The three-time All-Star, a leading NL MVP candidate, was out of Sunday's lineup, but manager Willie Randolph expected Beltran to return as early as today.
"He could play right now if he had to," Randolph said. "It's great news, great news."
Beltran left a dent in the fence after catching Lance Berkman's fly ball in the ninth inning of New York's 4-2 win over the Astros on Saturday night.
After the catch, he made a throw to the infield, then went to the ground. Randolph and team trainers ran out to examine him before Beltran gingerly walked off with help.
"You always hold your breath in those situations," Randolph said. "It's a long trot out there when you've got to leave that dugout. You say a little prayer."
Beltran was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Houston, where X-rays on the knee were negative. Beltran said he might have a precautionary MRI exam today, when the Mets open a seven-game homestand.
THREE-HOMER HISTORY: The Phillies' Ryan Howard and the Cardinals' Albert Pujols became the first two players to hit three homers on the same day since Pujols and Cleveland's Travis Hafner did it on July 20, 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It was the first time a pair did it in their first three plate appearances since Cincinnati's Johnny Bench and Atlanta's Orlando Cepeda, both Hall of Famers, did it July 26, 1970.
CUBS LOSE CATCHER: Michael Barrett could miss the rest of the season after he was hit in the groin with a foul tip and had surgery.
He will miss at least two to three weeks and was scheduled to be released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, trainer Mark O'Neal said. "We have to see how he responds with the swelling and then we have to re-evaluate him," O'Neal said.
The Cubs placed Barrett on the 15-day disabled list and called up Buck Coats from Triple A.
CLOSER HEALING: Phillies closer Tom Gordon was activated off the disabled list and said he was ready to rejoin a bullpen that has struggled during the club's wild-card push.
"I feel ready," he said. "I just want to get out and help this team as fast as I can."
Gordon, who was on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, pitched two scoreless innings in his final rehab start for Class A Clearwater on Saturday.
BOSOX GET HEALTHIER: The Red Sox activated catcher Jason Varitek, outfielder Trot Nixon and shortstop Alex Gonzalez from the disabled list, bringing back three regulars who were sidelined while the team's playoff chances plummeted.
Varitek, the team captain, had been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 1 with torn cartilage in his left knee. Nixon was out since July 31 with a strained right biceps, and Gonzalez was gone since Aug. 22 with a strained side muscle.
The Red Sox went 9-21 during August, the worst winning percentage in the majors, and fell from a one-game lead in the AL East over the Yankees to an eight-game deficit by the end of the month.
BRAVES: Third baseman Chipper Jones was a late scratch with a sore oblique muscle on his left side. Jones, who was on the disabled list last month with the same injury, is batting .318 with 23 home runs and 79 RBIs. Willy Aybar started for Jones.