JUPITER, Fla. -- Carlos Beltran's return to the Cardinals' starting lineup was delayed by continued discomfort in his right toe. The injury is one that Beltran has been dealing with since being hit by a pitch Feb. 28. He played through the pain while representing Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
Manager Mike Matheny characterized the issue as day to day, not putting a date on when Beltran was expected to return to the field.
"We feel comfortable with the at-bats he's been able to get," Matheny said. "We're going to have to hold on until he's ready to go."
Beltran said Friday that the toe was particularly bothersome when he plays right field and hits from the right side. The Cardinals do not have the flexibility of letting Beltran slot in as a designated hitter anymore either, as they want to make sure their pitchers are taking at-bats to prepare for the regular season.
Matheny dismissed concerns about the possibility that Beltran would not be ready for the start of the season. The Cardinals have six games remaining on their spring schedule before the team's April 1 opener in Arizona.
"Getting in the outfield, it's not like he needs help reading balls off the bat," Matheny said. "He just needs time to let this thing play out. It could be [Sunday]. We'll talk to him in the morning."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.