Hobbled Beltran still set to join Puerto Rico

JUPITER, Fla. -- For St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, progress was something as simple as being able to put a tennis shoe on his right foot on Saturday morning.

It was a mundane feat, but one that Beltran couldn't accomplish a day earlier due to the swelling of his small right toe. Beltran was hit on the toe by a pitch on Thursday, and he hasn't been available to play since.

"It's a little better, but it's still bruised and still swollen," Beltran said on Saturday, after taking some swings in the batting cage. "It's painful. But I have to do something related to baseball."

For now, the injury will not affect Beltran's status for the World Baseball Classic. He and teammate Yadier Molina are scheduled to join Team Puerto Rico on Sunday in Lee County, Fla, where they will play in exhibition games against the Red Sox and Twins early next week before beginning pool play on Friday.

Beltran said he will make a final determination about his availability for the Classic over the next frew days.

"I'll see how I progress and see what happens," he said. "I don't have to make a decision today."

"He and I talked," added manager Mike Matheny. "If there's one guy who I know is only going to do what he can do, it's him. He's not going to push it. It's still real black and blue. He's going to go and do what he can."

The Cardinals will lose two other players to the Classic after Saturday's game. Mitchell Boggs (USA) and Fernando Salas (Mexico) will both travel to Arizona for their first-round games. Team USA and Mexico face off on Friday.