Beltre opts for surgery next week
Third baseman to play his final game of season on Sunday
ANAHEIM -- The risk wasn't worth the reward, so third baseman Adrian Beltre has decided to end his fourth season with Seattle two weeks early.The Mariners' series finale against the Angels on Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium will be Beltre's final game of the season. He'll return to Seattle and have surgery on Thursday to replace a torn ligament in his left thumb, as well as another procedure on his left shoulder. "I made the decision before [Friday night's] game, but didn't tell anyone until afterwards," Beltre said prior to Saturday night's game. "I talked to many people [on Friday], and they all said it doesn't make any sense to keep playing and be sore at the beginning of Spring Training. "I don't feel good about [Sunday] being my last game, but this is the way I should go." Beltre faces a four- to five-month recovery period, so by having the surgery next week, instead of waiting until the season ends on Sept. 28, it improves the chances of him being 100 percent healthy in February when Spring Training starts. Beltre, an American League Gold Glove Award winner last season and potential repeat winner this season, went into Saturday night's game riding a 15-game hitting streak, batting .270 overall with 25 home runs and 76 RBIs. "It's very comforting to look out there and see him at third base," manager Jim Riggleman said, "but it just occurs to me that in his mind, he has to be feeling that he's really going to be glad to get this fixed and be able to go out there and feel good. He probably hasn't felt good since Spring Training." Beltre actually has been playing with the torn ligament for nearly two seasons. He suffered the injury on May 31, 2007, while diving for a ball hit near the third-base line, missed a few games, came back at far less than 100 percent, resumed playing and ended up missing just 13 games all of last season. He thought the injury would heal with rest, but it never did and the damage was found during an MRI exam taken last December. Rather than have surgery and miss the first month or so of this season, he played on. Another MRI exam, taken on Monday, confirmed the tear is still there, and Beltre has been contemplating when to have the surgery. He missed the two-game series against the Rangers at Safeco Field on Tuesday and Wednesday, re-entered the lineup on Thursday night against the Angels and will remain there through the four-game series against the AL West champions. Beltre said he would remain in Seattle for four or five days after the dual surgery and then hopefully return to his offseason home. He has one year remaining on his five-year, $64 million contract, but possibly could go on the trade market during the offseason. Asked if he thought he would be back next season, Beltre said, "I don't know, good question. Of course I want to be back. But I don't think the team knows exactly which way they're going to go yet. We as players don't know which way the team is going to go, whether they're going to have a competitive team, or go young or rebuild. There's a lot to see what's going to happen next year. I want to win, that's the bottom line. If this team is going to go young and really try to rebuild it, I don't want to really be in the situation where I know we're going to lose coming to Spring Training. I hope that's not the case, because if it is, it's not going to be fun."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.