Carlos Beltran is finally making some progress

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Last week general manager Omar Minaya revealed that Carlos Beltran is unlikely to return before the All-Star break, saying he had yet to resume baseball activities and would need 6-8 more weeks of rehab time once that happens.
Yesterday the injured center fielder said he’s currently running at about 80 percent and expects to begin playing extended spring training games next week, which indicates he’s now 6-8 weeks from rejoining the Mets if Minaya’s timetable is accurate.
When he does return Beltran may see some time in right field, with manager Jerry Manuel saying yesterday “that’s not out of the question” and “it would be something we have to entertain with him, how comfortable he is in a different spot.” By playing Beltran in right field the Mets would potentially save some wear and tear on his surgically repaired knee while also leaving Angel Pagan in center field where he’s played well.
Current right fielder Jeff Francoeuer would be the odd man out in that scenario, but he has little room to complain with a .251 batting average, .314 on-base percentage, and .393 slugging percentage in 53 games. Of course, given Beltran’s many setbacks and the Mets’ recent history with such things there’s obviously no need to cross that bridge any time soon.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.