MIAMI -- General manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday that Ronny Paulino is suffering from symptoms of anemia but could return to the Mets by the end of April. Paulino was scheduled to see a blood specialist Thursday, but Alderson said the catcher's biopsy came back negative.

Earlier this week, Alderson said Paulino had been dealing with "stomach and colon issues" but did not specify the problem. The goal now, according to Alderson, is for Paulino to get his red-blood cell count up with medication and heal after the biopsy.

"I'm not a doctor, but that requires two things, plugging the holes and replacing the iron," Alderson said. "He's basically anemic right now. The concern was about what was causing it. At this point, they're comfortable that it's not serious squared, and hopefully the medication works."

The Mets placed Paulino on the restricted list to start the year because he still has eight games left on his 50-game suspension from last season for testing positive for a banned substance. When that is finished, Alderson said it is likely Paulino will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, with the possibility of returning around April 24.

"It's still going to be a matter of well the medication is working," Alderson said. "The next checkpoint will be one to two weeks."


Fresh start for K-Rod

If the need arises Friday night, the Mets presumably will call on Francisco Rodriguez for the first time since Aug. 14, when he left the team for season-ending surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb. Not to mention dealing with the fallout from his assault on his girlfriend's father in Citi Field's family room.

K-Rod had a productive spring. He didn't allow a run in 10 appearances, with 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings, and also completed the Port St. Lucie phase of his anger-management counseling.

"After all the bad things that happened to me,'' Rodriguez said, "and to be able to put that behind me and look forward to the next chapter of my life, that's awesome."

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