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Delgado to play winter ball

Delgado to play winter ball

NEW YORK -- The Mets have yet to define their plans for Carlos Delgado. Now it seems they will have more information to consider while they are weighing the possibilities of re-signing him. A free agent, Delgado intends to play winter ball in Puerto Rico to allow the Mets and other clubs an opportunity to evaluate him in the wake of the surgery he underwent in May to repair his right hip.

The Mets were well aware of Delgado's plans before Carlos Beltran mentioned them Wednesday while making an appearance in Manhattan. A person familiar with the situation said earlier this week that Delgado was trying to find a way to play close to home rather than playing on the other side of the island for a team he previously had played.

Delgado, 37, underwent hip surgery May 19 and never returned to active duty. A strained right oblique, suffered in August, undermined his planned return and stole his chance to prove his readiness for big league play. The Mets are uncertain whether to pursue the veteran slugger who fueled their offense in the second half of 2008. People familiar with club's machinations have said a strong sentiment opposed to re-signing exists within in the Mets' hierarchy, but that general manager Omar Minaya favors offering Delgado a conditional contract with a low base salary and many incentives.

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The Mets seem committed to having Daniel Murphy play first base, and, while they believe Murphy can exceed the team-high 12 home runs he hit in 2009, they also doubt he can approach the 38 homers Delgado smacked in 2008. The club has identified power hitting as its greatest need.

If the club were to acquire a slugger to play left field, such as free agents Matt Holliday and Jason Bay, the need for power would be addressed, and thoughts of Delgado probably would pass.

Beltran said he hoped the Mets would re-sign his friend, but stayed clear of endorsing the move. He expressed confidence in Minaya and Delgado's ability to provide 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Beltran also said his problematic right knee feels fine. He is to have it examined, but no exact date has been set. Beltran has been urged to continue the rehabilitation exercises he did during the summer while he was assigned to the disabled list and after he returned to active duty. He is to limit his running, however, to minimize strain in the knee.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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