K-Rod feeling better after back scare

K-Rod feeling better after back scare

BOSTON -- Perhaps the clubhouse chatter regarding Francisco Rodriguez's availability for Sunday's game was a bit premature. But one can hardly blame the Mets for their enthusiasm, considering what transpired at Fenway Park only half a day earlier.

Roughly 12 hours after collapsing outside Fenway's visiting clubhouse and being taken in an ambulance to a local hospital, Rodriguez was feeling markedly better -- going as far as to play catch on the field prior to Sunday's game. All evidence of the lower back spasms that had gripped him Saturday was gone, replaced instead by a wave of relief.

"Man, that was really painful," Rodriguez said. "I've never experienced anything like this before. I was struggling to walk yesterday, but I got some medicine, and I feel pretty good now."

Confined to a trainer's table Saturday evening after falling victim to a violent wave of back spasms, Rodriguez could hardly walk during the Mets' game against the Red Sox. Regardless, he attempted to leave Fenway Park under his own power, collapsing just outside the clubhouse door.

Rodriguez was rushed to a local hospital, where he received medication that immediately eased his pain.

"I just couldn't do it," Rodriguez said. "My legs gave up on me."

The next morning, Rodriguez walked into the visiting clubhouse wheeling his own luggage, and insisting that he is not far from a return to the mound.

"It's not sore, no pain right now," he said. "But we'll see how my body responds to the treatment, and we'll go from there."

"He's still managing that," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He feels much better today. But his availability is still undetermined at this point."

The fact that Rodriguez doesn't have a history of back spasms helps, as does the fact that he hardly has an injury history at all. Not since 2005, when he strained his right forearm, has Rodriguez spent time on the disabled list.

The Mets could certainly use their $37 million closer, who is a perfect 12-for-12 in save situations with an 0.87 ERA -- especially considering setup man J.J. Putz walked the first batter he faced in the ninth inning Saturday and served up three hard-hit balls to the Red Sox. But they're hardly willing to take a risk, with nearly a third of their active roster battling some sort of ailment.

"When he went down, I was just kind of shocked with that," Manuel said. "But a lot of things have happened on this trip. I said, 'OK, bring it on, we'll deal with it.'"

The Mets have had eight players -- Rodriguez, Putz, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Alex Cora, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran and Gary Sheffield -- miss time due to injuries, setbacks or sickness on their current three-city road trip. And that's in addition to another three players -- Oliver Perez, Brian Schneider and Billy Wagner -- who were already on the disabled list when the team left New York.

Reyes did receive a dose of good news on his right calf, which felt markedly better Sunday.

"I think he'll play tomorrow," Manuel said, referring to Monday's game against the Nationals.

And Beltran, forced into a designated hitter role all weekend due to a sore right knee, should be cleared to play Monday.

But Church may be injured more seriously than the Mets originally thought. Complaining of a sore right hamstring during Friday's game, Church was not in the lineup Sunday for the second straight day.

"Church is still sore," Manuel said. "We're going to have to really take another look at that as well. It was still pretty tender."

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