NEW YORK (AP) – On the day Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup, the New York Mets got another bad break.

The Mets learned that catcher Mike Piazza will miss at least a few games because of a broken bone in his hand. The injury, a hairline fracture of the pisiform bone, happened when Piazza was hit by a foul tip during Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Piazza caught one more inning before leaving because of the pain. He went to the hospital Wednesday, where X-rays revealed the injury.

“It’s definitely swollen,” Piazza said. “This morning I woke up and it was really a lot more swollen and just really stiff. Hopefully the swelling goes down in a few days and we’ll just take it from there.”

The Mets hope Piazza can return after the swelling is reduced, but general manager Omar Minaya acknowledged a roster move could be necessary so the Mets aren’t left with Ramon Castro as the only available catcher.

“As of right now, it’s a couple of days, but there is no specifics,” Minaya said. “We know it’s swollen and we’re going to have to wait until the inflammation goes down. But we’ve been told a couple of days.”

The news about Piazza’s injury took some of the excitement from Beltran’s return. Just six days after his frightening head-to-head collision with teammate Mike Cameron in the outfield, Beltran batted third as the starting center fielder.

On Tuesday, Beltran opted against surgery to repair a minimally displaced facial fracture he sustained in the collision. He then worked out at the stadium and felt he was ready to return.

“We are in a very good position, still fighting to accomplish our goals,” Beltran said. “I feel like right now we have the opportunity and I just want to be part of it.”

Minaya said that Cameron had been released from a San Diego hospital where he had surgery and was on his way back east.

AP-ES-08-17-05 1823EDT


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