"I don't like to miss games," said Beltran, who was out of the lineup for a third straight start. "But I want to make sure that when I do come back I'm ready to go."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said the slugger could have played but his knee does not respond well in chilly weather. It was 52 degrees with the wind blowing when Matheny addressed the media before Wednesday's game.
"He's being real smart about it," Matheny said. "We're making sure we get a good look at him. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."
Beltran maintained that he prefers playing at peak level.
"There's no doubt I feel a lot better than I did yesterday," he said. "It doesn't bother me when I hit. It's when I play the outfield or run the bases. When I play again, I want to play at a high level. I have to be ready to play defense."
Beltran has not played since being named National League Player of the Week on Monday.