HOUSTON - Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has a torn ligament in his right thumb and will need season-ending surgery. Making matters worse, the injury occurred during the incident last week in which K-Rod was arrested for allegedly assaulting his fiancee's father.
A Mets official made the stunning announcement outside the team's clubhouse at Minute Maid Park before lastnight's game with the Astros. Surgery has not yet been scheduled for Rodriguez, who did not accompany the team here after Sunday night's game at Citi Field.
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K-Rod was suspended for two games without pay after the incident, which took place following a game at Citi Field on Wednesday night. That the thumb injury took place during the incident could end up costing him a lot more money.
The Mets, according to a source familiar with their thinking, are looking into further punitive measures, including voiding the remaining year-plus of the three-year, $37-million contract Rodriguez signed as a free agent before the 2009 season.
The source said the team would "explore everything." A more likely path, especially once the powerful Players' Association gets involved, is the Mets seeking to recoup the $3.5 million they owe Rodriguez for the rest of this season.
A club spokesman said, "We are exploring all of our options" in regards to K-Rod's contract. "We will have more information regarding our course of action tomorrow."
After rejoining the team Saturday after his suspension, apologizing for the incident and saying he would seek anger-management counseling, Rodriguez pitched a scoreless inning in the Mets' 4-0 loss to the Phillies. He complained of the thumb injury Sunday. An MRI taken Monday at Manhattan's Hospital for Special Surgery confirmed the torn ligament.
Manuel, the ranking Mets baseball official on this leg of the road trip, said he learned of the injury before Sunday night's game against the Phillies.
Asked why Rodriguez did not tell Mets officials about the injury before Sunday, Manuel said: "I have no idea. I don't know if it's something he felt later. He felt like he was fine to go in the game."
A team official confirmed that the injury occurred during the incident Wednesday that led to Rodriguez's arrest. Manuel said it happened "during that time frame" and said Rodriguez did not dispute that fact, which will be crucial to the Mets' building a case for further punishment.
As for his initial reaction to the news, Manuel said: "Obviously, I'm disappointed, discouraged, frustrated. When you get this kind of news - we've just been through a lot. We seem to continue to have difficulties in keeping things, from having these type of injuries, these type of setbacks. It's a tough one. "It's a very tough one. It's not a baseball-related thing, so that even probably adds to it. That's what it is and what we've got to do is move forward. We've still got games to play."
They will have to play them without their closer, who finishes his second Mets season with a 4-2 record, 2.20 ERA and 25 saves.
Players reacted with shakes of the head as word of Rodriguez's injury filtered around the clubhouse before last night's game. Regardless of the circumstances of his injury, his teammates recognize his value at the end of a game.
"Obviously, it's a loss for us," David Wright said. "You lose the closer. We've dug ourselves a hole and that doesn't help us, no question about that."
Manuel said Hisanori Takahashi would get the first shot at closing, but then he checked off the name of every other Mets reliever as candidates. In a brief attempt at levity, he also mentioned himself as a potential closer.