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Marlon Anderson, Ryan Church collide; Carlos Delgado sent home

Saturday, March 1st 2008, 8:10 PM

Benc/Getty

Umpire Jerry Meals calls for time as Mets second baseman Ruben Gotay attends to first baseman Marlon Anderson (l.) and right fielder Ryan Church after their fourth-inning collision.

PORT ST. LUCIE - The Mets sent Carlos Delgado to New York for examination after a right hip problem that sidelined him for 2-1/2 weeks in September seemingly resurfaced. Then his replacement at first base, Marlon Anderson, collided with right fielder Ryan Church while converging on an Andruw Jones pop-up Saturday. A nightmarish day for the Mets ended with three players making hospital visits.

A groggy Church - who .received the worse end of the fourth-inning collision, suffering a Grade II concussion and a cut on the inside of his mouth during the spring training game against the Dodgers - had no memory of the jolt afterward. Anderson, who suffered a bruised sternum, is day-to-day. Church's status will be clearer once his concussion symptoms subside; a Grade II concussion usually requires a player to rest for a week.

They join a who's who of players unavailable early this spring, a list that also includes Carlos Beltran (knees), Luis Castillo (knees), Damion Easley (ankle), Endy Chavez (ankle/hamstring), Jose Valentin (knee) and Ben Johnson (ankle).

Catcher Brian Schneider was held out Saturday as well with tightness in his legs.

"The ball was hit over my shoulder. I was trying to get it," Anderson said. "The last second I looked up - literally the last second - out of a glimpse I saw him. We were both way too close in. … It was kind of in the middle. It was really nobody's ball. It was whoever could get to it. I didn't think he was going to be that close, and I'm sure he didn't think I was going to be that close. … I don't think it's anything serious. We're going to have a CT scan just to make sure everything is fine underneath. I'll be a little sore, but definitely nothing serious."

Anderson was the first one on the scene during that gruesome collision between Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron in San Diego in 2005, and said this one was "nothing like that" in severity, though Willie Randolph acknowledged that upon seeing Church with some blood around the mouth, "You get a little flashback."

Team spokesman Jay Horwitz said of Church: "He doesn't remember anything about anything. He doesn't remember going out to catch the ball. He doesn't remember the collision. He's able to walk. His jaw is sore. But he's a little woozy."

Long term, the biggest impact to the Mets is Delgado's condition. The first baseman missed 16 days after straining his right hip flexor swinging Sept. 4 in Cincinnati, and is now having trouble in the same area.

"He just felt a little discomfort," GM Omar Minaya said. "… He should be okay. We're just going to keep an eye on it."

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