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Jeremy Hefner struck in right elbow, leaves game

Jeremy Hefner falls to the ground after being

Jeremy Hefner falls to the ground after being hit by a line drive from St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (March 26, 2013) Credit: AP

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Righthander Jeremy Hefner left Tuesday's game against the Cardinals when he was struck on the right elbow with a one-hop comebacker from ex-Met Carlos Beltran.

He was taken for an X-Ray, which came back negative. The Mets said he just has a contusion.

The banged-up Mets can ill afford another injury to the starting rotation. Hefner had been in line to step in for lefty Johan Santana, who is dealing with shoulder problems. The club is also waiting to learn the status of righthanded pitcher Shaun Marcum, who visited a doctor earlier in the day after complaining of a neck issue.

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