New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez throws in relief in...

New York Mets pitcher Francisco Rodriguez throws in relief in the ninth inning of the spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals. (March 15, 2010) Credit: AP

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Francisco Rodriguez rushed home to Venezuela after learning that a family member was involved in a serious car accident early Wednesday morning, according to his agent, Paul Kinzer. The Mets would say only that K-Rod had left the team because of a family emergency, but Kinzer described the situation as critical.

"It had to be pretty severe for him to leave like that," Kinzer said. "I know he wants to be back for Opening Day, but I haven't heard from him since he went back. That's where we're at."

Omar Minaya told reporters of Rodriguez's absence Thursday during an impromptu news conference to discuss his decision to place Jose Reyes on the disabled list. The GM said Rodriguez went home because of a personal family matter, and Minaya was hopeful that he will return in time for Monday's opener against the Marlins at Citi Field.

"Right now, we expect him to be available, yes," Minaya said.

The Mets' $36-million closer had rebounded from a stubborn case of pinkeye, a highly contagious infection that forced him into exile from the clubhouse for roughly two weeks at the start of spring training.