By R.B. FALLSTROM,  AP Sports Writer

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) _ Last summer, Carlos Beltran offered to foot the bill if then-Mets teammate Jonathan Niese received a nose job.

Now it’s time to pay up.

The surgery, performed last October, didn’t straighten the 25-year-old pitcher’s crooked nose, but that wasn’t the point.

Niese is breathing a lot easier after the procedure corrected a deviated septum.

Niese said Wednesday, before the Mets’ first workout for pitchers and catchers, that he’d been having trouble breathing through the right nostril for some time. The surgeon told Niese the nose was broken, although the pitcher didn’t remember when that could have happened.

The left-hander was an 11-game winner last year in his second full season in the rotation. He said he and Beltran were joking around last summer when Beltran brought up surgery and offered to pay.

The bill for an amount Niese declined to specify, but will not make a dent in Beltran’s bank account, is in the mail.

Beltran was traded to the Giants at the deadline and signed a two-year, $26 million free agent deal in the offseason with St. Louis. The Cardinals are training in Jupiter, Fla., about a 40-minute interstate drive south of the Mets’ complex.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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