The return to New York was Beltran's first since the Mets dealt him to the Giants during last July's non-waiver Trade Deadline. It's been longer since he last roamed center. He most recently started a game there on Sept. 28, 2010, having played exclusively as a right fielder since.
"For me, right field is more of an adjustment position for me, because I'm watching the game from a different angle," Beltran said. "It's not going to be weird [in center], because I've been there."
The need to move Beltran to center field developed as manager Mike Matheny went about trying to find a way to keep both Matt Adams and Allen Craig in the lineup. Craig came off the disabled list on Friday after missing time with a left hamstring strain.
Adams made his 12th straight start at first base on Friday. That pushed Craig, who hit .373 with 19 RBIs between his two DL stints, into right field.
Matheny has said that he doesn't believe center field will be more taxing on Beltran's already achy knees, though that doesn't mean the Cardinals anticipate sending him out to center field daily.
"Just when it makes sense," Matheny explained. "We'll see how he responds."
Beltran sat out on Wednesday due to right knee soreness, which also cost him four other starts earlier this month.
"When I play the game, the last thing I think about is my knees," Beltran said. "If something is going to go wrong, it's going to go wrong, so I just go out and play the game. Center field is more active than right field, for sure. You have to be in constant movement all the time. But it's fine with me."