Mets' K-Rod postpones spring debut

Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez walks between two teammates

Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez walks between two teammates during spring training. (Feb. 18, 2011) (Credit: AP)

VIERA, Fla. - Francisco Rodriguez was scratched Tuesday from his Grapefruit League debut after spending the last two days in New York to give the court an update on his anger management courses.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty in December to an attempted assault charge as part of a plea deal. Rodriguez originally faced charges of third-degree assault and second-degree harassment after punching his girlfriend's father at Citi Field after a Mets game on Aug. 11, 2010.

Rodriguez was scheduled to make the trip here for yesterday's game against the Washington Nationals. But he arrived in the clubhouse roughly 15 minutes before the Mets' departure time of 9 a.m. and chose to stay behind after not throwing for two days.

Rodriguez said he wanted to throw a light "touch-and-feel" session, another bullpen Wednesday and then make his first game appearance Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park. Rodriguez anticipates that he will have to leave camp twice more before Opening Day to give updates on his court-mandated sessions.

As for the disruption in his work schedule, Rodriguez shrugged. "There's nothing I can do about that now," he said. "I should have known better than to do what I did."

No more help from Chase

The Mets may be drowning in a sea of debt, but if they're seeking to borrow more, it won't be from JPMorgan Chase, the bank said yesterday.

The New York Post reported that the bank was trying to recruit other lenders to provide a new loan to the team, which has had its finances undermined by its owners' involvement with Bernard Madoff. The bankruptcy trustee for Madoff is seeking as much as $1 billion from the Wilpon family, which owns the Mets.

"The story is inaccurate," JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli said. "We are not in discussions to syndicate any new loans to the team."

Even so, the Mets' finances remain murky. The Wilpons borrowed $25 million from Major League Baseball late last year to meet expenses.

And because of the team's high debt load and the prospects of declining attendance at Citi Field, there are concerns that the team might have difficulty paying the interest on the municipal bonds that financed the stadium's construction. Last month Moody's Investors Service changed the outlook for those bonds to negative.

Because of the team's financial uncertainty, the Wilpons have sought minority investors in the team. Extra bases

Jon Niese allowed two hits in three scoreless innings in the 5-3 loss to the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. Jose Reyes doubled in the first inning and scored on David Wright's sacrifice fly. Second-base candidate Brad Emaus went 1-for-3 and turned a double play . . . Oliver Perez will pitch Thursday against the Cardinals. He is third in line after starter Chris Capuano and Boof Bonser.

With Andrew Smith

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