NEW YORK (AP) – Carlos Beltran decided Tuesday he would not have surgery to repair a minimally displaced facial fracture he got last week in a violent outfield collision with New York Mets teammate Mike Cameron.

Instead, Beltran will try to play and the Mets will attempt to design some protection, perhaps a mask, for the injury.

“The doctors gave me options,” he said. “I decided not to have the surgery. I want to be out there. I feel good. Nothing bothers me right now.”

Beltran planned on going through a full workout before Tuesday night’s game against Pittsburgh and if he feels no ill effects, he could return to action later this week.

The Mets gave Beltran the option of deciding what to do, general manager Omar Minaya said.

“Our doctors feel Carlos is not at any risk,” Minaya said. “I talked to him today and I told him we as an organization would support him whatever he wants to do. He is very convinced. He wants to be with his teammates.

“Surgery would have kept him out a week, maybe 10 days, maybe two weeks. Without surgery, he might be able to play tomorrow.”

Beltran was signed to a seven-year, $119 million contract last winter but has had a disappointing season. He was slowed by a thigh injury for much of the first half and was hitting .267 with 13 home runs and 59 runs batted in when he was injured in the collision.

Beltran’s decision to forego surgery means the Mets could see him back in the lineup as soon as Wednesday, Minaya said.

Manager Willie Randolph said he would wait a day or so with Beltran.

“A blow to the head,” Randolph said. “You want to make sure. If he feels normal, no headaches, no dizziness, then he’ll be back.”

Cameron and Beltran collided at high speed in San Diego last Thursday as both chased a fly ball. Cameron was carried off the field on a stretcher and was placed on the disabled list with fractures of both cheek bones and his nose as well as a mild concussion.

“Mike came out of it with the worst part,” said Beltran, who also was diagnosed with a mild concussion. “He knows we’re praying for him. He’ll be fine. It’s part of the game.”


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