Beltran optimistic about return after game-speed BP

Beltran optimistic about return after game-speed BP

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran took batting practice from both sides of the plate on the field at Yankee Stadium on Friday, and the Yankees outfielder said that he was "relieved" to not feel any discomfort in his ailing right elbow.

Beltran, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list, is hoping to avoid surgery that would shave down a bone spur in his elbow. Beltran said that he was able to take his swings at full-game speed, an encouraging sign as he works to return to the big league lineup.

"It's been a long wait for me mentally, just trying to get back as soon as I can and working as hard as I can to avoid surgery," Beltran said. "Thank God, things are going well."

The Yankees have estimated that if Beltran needs surgery, it would take him out of action for an additional eight to 12 weeks. Friday's development is a positive step, but it brings no guarantees.

"I don't think you're out of the woods," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he has to go through rehab games where all types of things happen -- where you swing and miss, or you get fooled, or you get out in front of a ball.

"I think you're going to have to go through some of that. And you could go through rehab games, and you still may not know. The only way to find out if we can get him into games is if we get him in games."

Girardi said that Beltran, 37, would take batting practice again on Saturday and is expected to require at least a brief Minor League rehabilitation assignment before being available to help in the Majors. Girardi said that if Beltran comes back, he would probably be used more as a designated hitter in the early going, with Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano continuing to play right field.

Beltran first felt the discomfort in his his elbow while hitting in the underground cages during the Subway Series game against the Mets on May 12. He said that a pair of cortisone injections have helped to alleviate the discomfort, as well as a brace that he plans to wear on his elbow while batting.

"I'm happy, honestly," Beltran said. "These few days have been tough because I've been going seeing doctors, seeing [Dr. James] Andrews. The doctor said it was a 50-50 chance. The 50-50 chance means that I'm glad I'm on this 50 percent. I'm happy about that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.