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Grogginess clears for Church

Grogginess clears for Church

ATLANTA -- Although his forehead looked as if it had been scrubbed with steel wool and his knees were scraped and his name had been excluded from the Mets' lineup on Wednesday night, Ryan Church said he felt all right and he thought he was well enough to play if a need were to arise. Less than 24 hours after he suffered an apparent concussion, the Mets' starting right fielder said he was free of concussion symptoms and concern about his latest medical episode.

Contact between Church and Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar on the final play of Tuesday's Mets-Braves doubleheader left Church groggy, Escobar limping and some Braves personnel sore in a different way. But by Wednesday, though neither player was in the lineup, both players were thought to face relatively short periods of convalescence. Church believed he would be available for full-time duty on Friday, at the latest, when the Mets begin a series in Denver.

Church tried to break up what proved to be a game-ending double play. He had succeeded in the fifth inning, dumping Escobar then too with a hard slide.

"And I'll do it again," he said. "That's good hard baseball. I didn't want to hurt him. But I don't care what the score is [the Braves led 6-2 when the play was made]. I'm going to try to avoid an out any way, any time I can."

Escobar's right knee struck Church in the back of his skull, on the right side. Escobar has a bruise just under the knee, and Church has ... well ... a fairly large abrasion on the right side of his forehead just below the hairline and no other visible scars. This collision, he said, "was nothing like Florida," a reference to his colliding with Marlon Anderson early in Spring Training.

That mishap resulted in a Grade 2 concussion, headaches, dizziness, nausea and significant time lost. This injury was characterized as a mild concussion by two Braves doctors after preliminary examination. Subsequent CAT Scans performed at a local hospital detected no abnormalities in his brain.

"Other than when I dragged my face on the ground, it wasn't that bad," Church said. "Absolutely nothing. I'm symptom-free. No dizziness."

He said he thinks he lost consciousness momentarily, but added, "I remember everything this time."

He even recalls returning to his hotel room early on Wednesday morning and realizing he still had grains of the Turner Field infield in his mouth.

Manager Willie Randolph said the Mets intended to be cautious with Church, to make certain his right fielder can run and swing without feeling any effects. Church appreciates the caution but dismisses the need for it.

"I'm fine and I want to play," Church said.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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