NEW YORK — Carlos Beltran had surgery on his troublesome right knee Wednesday and the New York Mets' center fielder will miss the start of the season.
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, New York will be without one of its best players for at least the first few weeks.
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 in Colorado by his personal physician, Dr. Richard Steadman.
The team said Beltran is expected to resume baseball activities in 12 weeks, a timetable that likely would keep him out for most of April – maybe longer.
A five-time All-Star, Beltran missed 2 1/2 months last season with a painful bone bruise on his right knee. 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."
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 with the team before 2005.
Angel Pagan got regular playing time in Beltran's absence last season and would probably fill in again.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya could not immediately be reached for comment. Spokesman Jay Horwitz said the team expected to hold a conference call Thursday.