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Gary Matthews Jr.'s agent: He's not just subbing for Carlos Beltran

Gary3 Gary Matthews Jr., displaced as the Angels' center fielder, is once again an everyday player.

For a month or two, anyway. The Angels today traded him to the New York Mets, and the agent for Matthews said his client might not return to the bench when Carlos Beltran returns from knee surgery.

"Gary has enjoyed playing every day, and there's an opportunity in New York," Scott Leventhal said. "Gary is going there to perform and put himself in a position that, even when Beltran comes back, he's going to be a major contributor to the Mets."

Leventhal said Mets officials had assured him that "judgments and decisions would be made" when Beltran returns. The Mets just signed Jason Bay to a four-year, $66-million contract, so he'll play left field. But, if Matthews plays well, Leventhal said his client could get some playing time in right field, where the incumbent is Jeff Francouer.

"I don't think there's any guarantees in right," Leventhal said.

Matthews enjoyed a career year with the Texas Rangers in 2006, after which the Angels signed him to a five-year, $50-million contract. They displaced him the following winter, signing Torii Hunter to a five-year, $90-million contract, and Matthews and the Angels coexisted uneasily thereafter.

When he reported to training camp last spring, Matthews said, "I don't intend to sit around and play a couple times a week like last year." He played in 103 games, batting .250 with four home runs, and asked for a trade at the end of the season.

"It's a bittersweet moment," Leventhal said. "The Angels made a big commitment to him. It didn't go as planned. Ultimately, Gary wants to play every day. That's all he can ask for."

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Gary Matthews Jr. Credit: Charlie Riedel / Associated Press

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