Francisco Rodriguez hasn't been focused on baseball since two of his brothers were injured, one seriously, in a car accident Wednesday outside Caracas in his native Venezuela.
But Jerry Manuel told his closer to be ready to pitch the ninth inning Monday, regardless of the score, perhaps to get K-Rod back in a baseball mind-set.
"It is [tough], but what can I do? You've got to focus on your job and not try to put the extra pressure from outside in here," Rodriguez said after a perfect ninth to close out the Mets' 7-1 win over the Marlins.
He spoke to reporters before he called Caracas for an update on his younger brother Leandro, who is hospitalized with numerous fractures to his lower body.
Rodriguez was pleased with his first outing, and perhaps equally pleased that it wasn't in a tightrope game, given that he hadn't pitched in a competitive situation in nearly a week.
"It's nice to have that first one out of the way," he said. "You just want to go out there, feel that rush - I still get butterflies going out there."
Rodriguez's fastball was in the range of 91 to 93 mph, which he deemed just about right for his first work. He got a groundout and two weak flyouts in his 14 pitches and ended a game that was long since decided, thanks to his countrymen Johan Santana and Fernando Nieve.
As soon as he finished speaking with the media, he was off to find out about Leandro, who was thrown from a truck carrying him, brother Erik and three others. The truck careened down a ravine after Erik Rodriguez fell asleep at the wheel while driving from Caracas to Apure; Erik was the only one wearing a seat belt, and the three others were thrown from the truck.
Erik suffered a broken arm, but Leandro has two broken hips, two broken legs, a broken arm and broken ribs. "All my family members are keeping in touch to let me know how he is," K-Rod said. "He's been medicated for the pain."
Trying to push that aside, Rodriguez said he's approaching this season with a new mentality. "Why? What happened last year?" he asked.
"We had a really bad year. I'm ready now to have this mentality all season long, and we'll come back [tomorrow] night again."