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Beltran won't be an option in center field

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JUPITER, Fla. -- A year after considering Carlos Beltran as a center-field option, the Cardinals are changing course. Manager Mike Matheny said on Sunday the club does not intend to use Beltran in center this season, presumably in an effort to protect Beltran's already-achy knees from enduring further stress.

"Last year, it was a topic of conversation and we toyed with it a little bit," Matheny said. "But I think we realize that it's a stretch for him at this point in his career. We're going to try and set him up for success."

Beltran played center field almost exclusively the first 13 years of his Major League career before the Mets shifted him to right during the 2011 season. Beltran had missed an extensive amount of time the previous season while recovering from right-knee surgery.

In 2012, Beltran started seven games in center and finished another two there for St. Louis.

The new defensive limitations the Cardinals are putting on Beltran will force the club to use one of its remaining bench spots on a center fielder. Shane Robinson, Adron Chambers and non-roster invitee Justin Christian could all fill that need.

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