Feeling better, Beltran returns to lineup

Feeling better, Beltran returns to lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Beltran was back in his customary cleanup spot in the Mets' lineup on Friday after missing Thursday's game against the Nationals with a stiff neck.

Beltran laced his first home run of the season on Wednesday, but he couldn't shake the lingering effects of a sore neck, so he was held out of the lineup against the Nationals on Thursday. Though he did pinch-hit in the ninth and struck out in a 3-2 Mets win, Beltran felt much better when he woke up in Philadelphia on Friday.

"I feel a little bit better," Beltran said. "It's not as bad as it was."

Beltran slept awkwardly, which apparently caused the pain.

"I feel better, and that's why I'm in the lineup," Beltran said.

"I was just watching him take BP and he looked pretty good," manager Willie Randolph added. "He's ready to go."

Beltran started the season red-hot, with seven doubles in the Mets' first six games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other Major League players had seven doubles in their first six games since 1934 -- Billy Werber with the '34 Red Sox and Alex Gonzalez with the '03 Cubs.

Now that Beltran's neck is feeling better, it could come just in time as the Mets begin a crucial three-game series against the National League East-rival Phillies.

When asked about the boos expected to careen from the fans at Citizens Bank Park, Beltran smiled wryly.

"I don't care about that," he said.

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.