Beltran now playing in extended spring games

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beltran home plate.jpgMets outfielder Carlos Beltran has been sidelined all season while rehabilitating from knee surgery and hasn’t exactly been making swift progress.  Hopefully that will all begin changing, as he played in a second straight extended spring training game on Saturday, according to the New York Daily News.

Beltran is still running at less than 75 percent effort, so he has served as the designated hitter in the two exhibition contests rather than patrol center field.  When he makes contact, he jogs slowly to first base.

Mets GM Omar Minaya is hoping that the 33-year-old outfielder will be ready to rejoin the club in a little over a month and that seems to be a realistic expectation, at least for now.  Beltran is still wearing a brace, and his surgically-repaired knee won’t truly be tested until he runs the bases, goes hard after fly balls, and does other strenuous lateral movements.

For now we play the waiting game and wonder what kind of boost the third-place Mets will get if a healthy Beltran returns after the All-Star break.  He’s a .283/.360/.496 career hitter with 273 home runs and 286 stolen bases in 12 professional seasons.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.