May 11, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) -- Carlos Delgado was out of the lineup again Monday night with a recurring hip injury that has the New York Mets worried about the long-term health of their cleanup hitter.

"I think it is something that we are concerned about, there's no question about that," manager Jerry Manuel said before his team opened a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

Delgado missed five straight starts with an aching right hip before returning to the lineup last Monday, when the Mets began a seven-game winning streak.

He's been on a .423 tear at the plate since, but he felt sore after Sunday's game against Pittsburgh and stiff on Monday morning.

"You like to play longer stretches than a week. So we'll try to figure out what it is and how we can make it better in order for me to go out and play longer stretches," Delgado said. "Hopefully, the rest of the season we don't have to worry about it. But you're still going to have to kind of listen to your body."

Manuel said he anticipates that Delgado will be sidelined for more than one day.

"It's funny: Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don't," Delgado said. "The good thing is, structural is not bad. So hopefully, calm it down and then just get it strong and go back to playing."

Delgado was bothered by a sore hip in spring training last year before a cortisone shot relieved the pain. He hurt his hip sliding on a triple April 26 this season and received another shot afterward, but it hasn't had the same effect.

Torn hip labrums have seemingly become a common injury around the majors. Several prominent players have had hip surgery recently, including Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Mike Lowell and Alex Gordon.

The Mets hope Delgado's injury is not as serious. He said he was diagnosed with an impingement.

"Every time you are not able to play, you are concerned. I don't think I'm going to jump off a building or anything like that today," he said. "It's been a couple weeks that I've been dealing with this."

Delgado, who turns 37 next month, was batting .298 with four homers and 23 RBIs.

He chugged home from first base Wednesday night and acknowledged Monday that his feet-first slide at the plate didn't feel good. Still, he was able to play the next four days.

"I have to kind of check with him on a daily basis," Manuel said. "It's one of those things, as well as he's hitting, as much as he's running, that it affects him. So, just have to be careful with it day to day."

Fernando Tatis started at first base Monday night in place of Delgado, who could be available to pinch hit.

Manuel also mentioned Jeremy Reed and Daniel Murphy as potential options at first if Delgado goes down for a while.

Delgado was hit by a pitch Sunday from Pittsburgh's Ian Snell, but Manuel said that had nothing to do with him being out of the lineup Monday.

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