The writing was on the wall last season for Carlos Beltran when he was confined to exercising in a pool for a significant part of the year. All of the symptoms – right knee pain with weight bearing, pain with any type of jogging or running, cutting and pivoting, swelling – all screamed to an articular cartilage problem. The “bone bruise”, as it was diagnosed, was actually Osteoarthritis (OA). Bone bruises are painful much in the same way as OA, but they get substantially better given enough time. OA really does not.
It is now announced that he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee today – a surgery that will certainly sideline him for three months, and in most cases for people who have this done, longer. It is interesting to note that Beltran went with his own physician – Dr. Richard Steadman (Colorado), who is one of the foremost leaders in microfracture surgery anywhere.
Could he be back in three to four months? Sure he could, but it is not likely. Every knee is different, and depending on the location of the cartilage defect, the size and the depth of the defect, recovery could be different. Not to mention that each individual deals with injury differently, and perceives pain differently. There’s really no easy answer.
Beltran should miss the entire Spring Training schedule, but it really would not surprise me if he struggled with his rehab and has this linger into May or June. I say this due to the chronic nature of his knee pain and the fact that with any chronic, painful condition, what once were normal movement patterns can become quite altered (compensatory gait, altered balance and motor skills/proprioception about the joint).
Even if he does come back this season, what are the chances that he will have the same speed, agility, and explosiveness that has made him a fantasy mainstay for so many years? We already know that he is not a lock for a high batting average (although he has had a couple .300-plus seasons), and his stolen base totals are now going to be on life support. He has also had a three-year decline in his SLG%, ISO, and HR totals, and has become more of a ground ball hitter, as evidenced by his three-year increase in GB%.
I am ignoring him completely in all draft formats, unless it is an NL-only league with a couple of DL spots for stashing.