NEW YORK -- Less than a week after the Yankees returned to full strength for the first time in a month, the health of their best hitter is now in jeopardy.
Carlos Beltran, the most productive hitter in the Yankees' lineup, exited Tuesday's 7-1 loss against the Rangers with a tight right hamstring and underwent an MRI. According to manager Joe Girardi, the MRI came back negative, but that doesn't necessarily mean Beltran has a clean bill of health.
"He's day to day," Girardi said, "so I'll see what I have tomorrow."
With the Yanks trailing 2-0, Beltran stopped at first base on a first-inning single to left field off Texas' Cole Hamels, even though left fielder Ryan Rua misplayed the ball on the warning track and Beltran could have easily gotten two bases. Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue quickly came out of the dugout to check on Beltran, who grabbed at each of his legs and attempted to squat before walking off the field.
Girardi said he immediately assumed the worst when Beltran didn't try to take second, but he didn't see him grab for his legs or show any pain, so Girardi didn't move to take Beltran out of the game until first-base coach Tony Pena gestured.
Beltran said the injury happened right before he was about to touch first base. He said he felt both a pull and a knot, and he stopped immediately upon feeling the pain. The outfielder has a history of injuries, but nothing major with his hamstring, so the feeling was foreign to him, which startled him a lot.
"I was concerned," he said. "What I felt, I've never had issues with my hamstrings like the way I felt it today. I was hoping that it wasn't nothing major and something minor. Thank God it was something minor."
Beltran, 39, entered play on Tuesday batting .294 with 19 home runs and 53 RBIs. It has been suggested that the Yankees could look to deal Beltran if they decide that they are not postseason contenders, though general manager Brian Cashman has said that no such determination has been made.
In the meantime, Beltran's chief goal is staying healthy. He said the training staff took care of him Tuesday night, giving him treatment to try to loosen the knot in his hamstring. On Wednesday he expects more of the same, plus some riding on the exercise bike and some acupuncture to continue to treat the tightness.
With this regimen in mind, Beltran said he still doesn't know whether or not he'll be ready to play when the Yankees take on right-hander Nick Martinez and the Rangers on Wednesday, meaning it is more likely that Alex Rodriguez will DH after sitting the last two times the Yankees faced a righty. That said, Beltran isn't ready to rule himself out yet.
"I don't know how I'm going to wake up tomorrow," Beltran said. "I'm hoping to wake up better than I feel today. But I believe I will be sore. I've got to do whatever it takes to get myself ready and see what happens."