Carlos Beltran hopes to begin running next week

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Reports last week had Carlos Beltran “not close to returning” from knee surgery, but yesterday the All-Star center fielder told the New York Daily News that he at least plans to begin running by early next week.

Physically, I’m in good shape. I feel strong. When I’m hitting, I feel like I’m hitting good, with power. I’m using my legs, driving the ball. I’m working with a purpose. That’s not the problem. The problem is I couldn’t tolerate some exercises. I’m looking forward to running outside and doing things related to baseball, like in a game. Running is the thing that will dictate everything.

Beltran talking about his hitting sounds encouraging, as does the Daily News‘ description of him “hitting from both sides of the plate and spraying balls all over the outfield” yesterday. Unfortunately the newspaper notes later that the guy he faced “was only pitching underhanded.” So, you know, if the NL ever decides to adopt slow-pitch softball rules, he’ll probably be an MVP candidate.
Within the Daily News article is a picture of the huge knee brace he’s been wearing and Beltran said, “I probably will need to play with it until my knee recuperates from everything.” Brace or not, he’s unlikely to return before June and will need to avoid further setbacks for that to happen.

Here are the final All-Star voting results before the close of balloting

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All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.

Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Javier Baez made a couple of fantastic plays last night

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Javier Baez is a second baseman. He’s played a good bit of shortstop and, if he played for some other teams, he may be an everyday shortstop, but he’s the Cubs’ second baseman.

With Addision Russell out with some shoulder issues, however, Baez got the call at short last night for the Cubs-Nats game in Washington. It was a good call, as he made a couple of spectacular plays in the field.

First up is this highway robbery of Bryce Harper, who thought he had a base hit. It was a good thought, too, as he hit the ball like a dang rocket:

Later, when Adam Lind was up to bat, he fouled one off behind third base. Baez got on his horse and did this:

That inspired Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper to use the old line the great Harry Kalas used about Garry Maddox: “Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water, the other one-third is covered by Garry Maddox.” It’s a great line, and aptly used to describe Javier Baez’s Monday night.