Notes: Beltran's return to present issue

Notes: Beltran's return to present issue

NEW YORK -- It's a nice kind of problem, but a problem nonetheless. And the Mets will soon have to find a solution.

When Carlos Beltran returns from the disabled list -- possibly as soon as this weekend, but more likely at the start of next week -- the Mets will have four full-time outfielders wedged into only three spots. Beltran will reclaim his regular duties in center field, leaving Shawn Green, Moises Alou and Lastings Milledge to battle for the two corner positions.

"I'll go with what I might feel as far as the day goes with matchups," said manager Willie Randolph. "Hopefully, we'll get them enough at-bats."

For Alou, the extra rest could be a blessing in disguise, as various injuries have left him playing regularly at less than 100 percent. With added days off, he could be fresher for the postseason.

For Green, the rest should be situational. While the naked eye might peg Green's season as below expectations, he's actually batting .302 with good power against right-handers. But against lefties, he's hitting only .192, with just 20 hits on the season.

Yet taking Milledge's bat out of the lineup may not prove so easy. On the one hand, he's only 22 years old, and playing every day at that age is rare. But on the other hand, he's been the only Mets outfielder to produce with any sort of consistency lately, batting .317 since his return from the Minors.

And while all three of those outfielders would jump at the chance to play every day -- and they've certainly gotten used to doing so of late -- there are far worse fates, whatever Randolph decides those fates will be.

"Willie's going to make that call," said general manager Omar Minaya. "Lastings has been doing a good job for us, and I think that Willie's going to try to keep Lastings's bat in the lineup whenever possible. But that's Willie's call."

Taking stock of Bonds: While there was little other than praise for Barry Bonds in the Mets' clubhouse after the slugger hit his record-breaking 756th home run Tuesday night, there was also plenty of wonder.

"Who in this clubhouse ever thought they'd see that record broken?" asked closer Billy Wagner.

Few, to be certain. But some Mets were more pleased with the man who caught the ball -- 21-year-old Matt Murphy of Queens, N.Y. -- than the man who hit it. Murphy was caught on camera emerging from a scrum with his prize, while proudly displaying his Mets jersey amidst a sea of Giants fans.

"There's Mets fans all over, I guess," Randolph said. "It's good."

Take two: The Mets on Wednesday announced the signing of two international teenage free agents, Cesar David Puello Santana and Wilmer Alejandro Flores. Puello, 16, is an outfielder from the Dominican Republic, and Flores, also 16, is an infielder from Venezuela. Both players will report to the Mets' instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"We are very happy to bring both of these talented young men to the New York Mets organization," said Mets director of international operations Ismael Cruz. "Puello is a great athlete with excellent makeup. He has good power, a good arm and the ability to run."

"Flores is the biggest international signing this year, and we are very excited at the opportunity to have him in our organization. Many teams were bidding higher for him, and he chose to come to the Mets ahead of the others for the opportunity to play in our organization."

The two took batting practice at Shea Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, mingling with perhaps some of their future teammates.

"The Mets go beyond being a business," Puello said through an interpreter. "They're a family. That's one thing that was a strong consideration in signing."

Key win: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Tom Glavine with a key to the city on Wednesday in honor of his 300th win.

"No matter where life takes Tom after his career," Bloomberg said, "our doors will always be open to him."

Hot hot heat: Wednesday night's game-time temperature clocked in at a sweltering 93 degrees. It's the hottest temperature for a Mets game since Aug. 9, 2001, a day game against the Brewers.

This and that: Minaya said he expects injured outfield reserve Endy Chavez to be back with the team in the next two to three weeks, while the speedy Carlos Gomez isn't due to return until September at the earliest. ... Beltran said he felt sore a day after working out for the first time since straining his left oblique, but he still took live batting practice Wednesday. "From the right side, I'm not capable of playing," he said. ... Mike Pelfrey had a second straight strong start for Triple-A New Orleans on Tuesday, allowing two runs and striking out five in six innings.

This date in Mets history -- Aug. 9: Don Hahn hit one of his seven career home runs and equaled his career high in RBIs, three, with one swing in the seventh inning of the Mets' 4-1 victory against the Reds at Shea Stadium on this date in 1974. After beating the Reds in the '73 playoffs, the Mets lost nine of 12 to them in '74.

Gary Carter hit two home runs to push the National League to a 5-4 victory in the All-Star Game in Cleveland on this date in 1981. He was named the MVP of the game, recognition he earned in the 1984 game as well.

With six players driving in runs and five scoring runs, the Mets defeated the Cubs, 6-4, at Shea in 1985. The victory was their fifth in a sequence of nine straight that put them in first place by one game over the Cardinals.

Howard Johnson hit a two-run home run and Kelvin Torve, ol' No. 24, hit a two-run double to fuel a four-run rally in the sixth inning that carried the Mets to a 5-4 victory against the Phillies at the Vet on this date in 1990.

Jason Isringhausen allowed six singles and no walks in eight scoreless innings in the Mets' 4-0 victory in Philadelphia in 1995.

One year ago on this date, Pedro Martinez was the winning pitcher in the Mets' 4-3 victory against the Padres at Shea. He made four more starts in the subsequent seven weeks, pitching merely 11 2/3 innings, and lost four times.

Coming up: Twelve-game winners John Maine (12-6, 3.27 ERA) and Tim Hudson (12-5, 2.95 ERA), each the leading winner on his staff, will be the starters Thursday when the Mets and Braves play their 12:10 ET series finale at Shea Stadium.

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.