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Delgado's hip pain not serious

Delgado's hip pain not serious

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The Mets' blessings wear effective disguises these days. The players find positives wrapped in negatives. The collision between Marlon Anderson and Ryan Church on Saturday could have been worse, manager Willie Randolph said. He considered that a blessing. And Anderson agreed Sunday morning, though his chest and jaw were sore.

And when Carlos Delgado returned to the camp on Sunday after his cameo appearance in Manhattan on Saturday, he too was pleased. The pain in his right hip, a symptom of an impingement in the socket, is not thought to be a serious malady.

Still, the team infirmary is overpopulated to such a degree that the lineup the Mets brought here on Sunday afternoon for their final visit to Dodgertown was devoid of names the casual fan would recognize: Anderson Hernandez, shortstop; Ruben Gotay, second base; Brady Clark, left field; Angel Pagan, center field; Ramon Castro, catcher; Fernando Martinez, right field; Michel Abreu, first base; Robinson Cancel, designated hitter; and Anderson Machado, third base.

But the Major League Baseball four-man rule almost couldn't be enforced. David Wright, Jose Reyes and Moises Alou might have played, but each had started three straight games and was expected to play in the Monday home game against the Braves. Brian Schneider was unavailable because of tightness in his right hamstring. And Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Endy Chavez and Damion Easley still weren't physically able to make their exhibition game debuts.

And by Sunday afternoon, Gotay was limping because he sprained his right ankle scoring the winning run against the Dodgers.

Delgado probably will miss a few more games as he affords his hip time to "quiet down." He received an injection of anti-inflammatory medication Saturday and probably will be taking oral medication. The condition, which Delgado said began in the offseason, isn't necessarily related to the right hip pointer that caused him to miss most of the Mets' unsuccessful pennant push in September. He described it as the hip "catching a little bit at times" and said he could cause the pain by rotating his hip to the left. The doctors told him Saturday the problem isn't chronic.

"That was the best news of the day," he said.

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The time missed won't be an asset for Delgado, who will turn 36 in June. He has merely six at-bats so far. And he needs time to find his stroke. Scouts watching the Mets these days believe Delgado may have lost his bat speed permanently last year. They recall his uneven 2007 season and say he was beaten regularly by fastballs he once crushed. One scout suggested Sunday, "You don't necessarily lose bat speed first, you might lose the mechanics of the swing. Either way, his swing isn't there."

He also said he wouldn't be surprised if the Mets were looking to fortify themselves at first base. They have no real understudy for Delgado, not one who is assured on being in the 25-player Opening Day roster.

Regardless, Delgado spoke confidently of a renaissance season on Sunday, also chanting the baseball equivalent of "it takes a village."

"If we all do out part," he said, "it will work. One guy doesn't have to carry the load."

Not that he did last season or in 2006. But the presence of powerful left-handed bat would balance the middle of the Mets' batting order -- Randolph indicated on Saturday that Delgado probably would bat fifth, followed by Alou and Church -- and provide protection for Wright and Beltran.

It works that way ideally.

"It's one big orchestra," Delgado said. "If everybody plays their note, at the end of the day, the music is going to be better."

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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