Beltran out of lineup while Mets close in on trade

The New York Mets kept Carlos Beltran out of the lineup Wednesday night, an indication they were closing in on a trade that would have to be approved by the outfielder. Numerous media reports said New York hoped to ship Beltran to the San Francisco Giants.

"While we have been engaged in discussions, we're not in position to comment at this time," the Mets said in a statement.

Manager Terry Collins was told not to play Beltran, who wasn't at Great American Ball Park before batting practice. It would be the second major trade for the Mets, who dealt closer Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee after the All-Star game.

"Everyone here has anticipated it, whether we like it or not," Collins said. "We knew it was going to happen. We've talked about it for the last 10 days. So we'll find out tomorrow."

The Mets have discussed Beltran with several teams. The defending World Series champions could use the switch-hitting Beltran, who leads the National League with 30 doubles and is batting .289 with 15 homers and 66 RBIs.

The Giants' offense has been inconsistent and lacking power. They entered Wednesday night's game in Philadelphia batting .241 as a team with only 66 home runs. After concluding the series in Philadelphia, they come to Cincinnati on Friday for three weekend games.

Beltran is in the final year of a $119 million deal he signed with the Mets before the 2005 season. The Mets won four of their first 15 games and haven't been higher than third in the NL East after that poor start, prompting them to look into trades.

Shortstop Jose Reyes said Beltran took teammates to a local steakhouse owned by one of his friends following an 8-6 win over the Reds on Tuesday night.

"We were joking with him: 'You're doing this because you're going to get traded,'" Reyes said. "He said, 'No. no.'"

Reyes said losing Beltran will be a huge blow to the Mets, who were 52-51 heading into Wednesday night.

"You lose a guy like that in July, it's big, it's huge," Reyes said. "We've got to continue to play with what we've got. It's not easy to replace that kind of player. It's going to be tough."

Collins said Lucas Duda would play in right field a lot after Beltran is gone.

"I'm probably more comfortable at first base and left field because I haven't played a lot out there," Duda said. "I'll try my best out there and see what happens."

"He'd better get comfortable real fast," Collins said.

Pitcher R.A. Dickey has known Beltran since 2000 and will miss having him in the clubhouse.

"He's a very complete individual, not only on the field but off," Dickey said. "He's a valuable piece that's leaving. It's kind of sad."

Cleveland reportedly was interested in Beltran, but the outfielder didn't want to go to the rebuilding Indians, who have surprised by staying in contention in the AL East.

"While I won't comment on specific players, we are continuing to work to try to improve the team and haven't limited ourselves in the alternatives we've considered,' Indians general manager Chris Antonetti told The Associated Press in an email.

A message was left seeking comment from Scott Boras, Beltran's agent.


AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco and freelance writer Chuck Murr in Cleveland contributed to this report.