Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has a torn thumb ligament in his pitching hand sustained during a fight with his girlfriend's father at Citi Field and will need surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the season.
The Mets announced the injury before Monday night's game at the Houston Astros. They said the reliever didn't travel to Texas with the team.
"Obviously I'm disappointed, discouraged, frustrated," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "When you get this kind of news it's ... we've just been through a lot. We seem to continue to have difficulties keeping things from — having these type of injuries or these type of setbacks. Every year it seems like we get a little something here or there."
Manuel didn't dispute that Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season but said he didn't know how much longer beyond that it will take for the reliever to recover.
Rodriguez was suspended for two days without pay following the fight outside a family room at the ballpark last Wednesday.
The 28-year-old reliever was arrested and charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court Sept. 14.
When asked whether the injury occurred during the altercation, Manuel responded: "I was told during that time frame, yes." He said he does not think Rodriguez is contesting when it happened.
K-Rod was examined Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and the Mets said an MRI revealed the injury in his right hand.
"It's a very tough one," Manuel said. "It's not a baseball-related thing so that even probably adds to it a bit."
On the morning after the fight, New York put the four-time All-Star on the restricted list without pay for two days, costing him $125,683 of his $11.5 million salary.
He is owed $11.5 million next year as part of a deal that includes a $17.5 million team option for 2012. The option would become guaranteed if he remains healthy and has 100 games finished this year and next, including 55 in 2011.
It's possible the Mets could try to withhold Rodriguez's salary during the time he's out, but based on past precedent it would be unlikely they could void the remainder of the contract.
Manuel said he is disappointed in the situation, but is not angry at Rodriguez.
"When you have some of the information, not all the information and you can pass judgment on the little information that you have," Manuel said. "You can see that — you don't condone it, but you can see why. I think that's what has to be taken into account with your frustrations and things that go on."
When asked to provide more details on the altercation, Manuel said he couldn't because of legal issues surrounding the issue.
"Once you have all that information, as men, I think we all would have reacted in some form," he said. "Maybe not in that form, but in some form and I think I have to kind of leave it at that."
When he returned from his suspension, Rodriguez apologized to teammates and fans, then gave up a leadoff double but didn't allow a run in a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
Manuel said Rodriguez didn't indicate he was injured before pitching in Saturday's game, Manuel said he first learned of the injury on Sunday.
At 58-59, the Mets began Monday third in the NL East. They are 10 games behind division-leading Atlanta. In Rodriguez's absence, they got complete-game shutouts from Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey.
Manuel said several relievers could be used in the closer role with Rodriguez out.
"(I'll) go matchups and see what fits best and who's pitching well," he said. "It's whoever I think is hot and I think it could be safe to say that you'll see (Hisanori) Takahashi getting a shot at closing games. Could be safe to say you'll see (Bobby) Parnell or (Manny) Acosta, maybe (Pedro) Feliciano, maybe (Elmer) Dessens. Bullpen by committee."
Third baseman David Wright said it's tough for the Mets to lose their closer, but that they have to pull together to make up for it.
"We've dug ourselves a hole and that doesn't help us, there's no question about that," he said. "But it gives other guys in here a chance to step up and do a job while he's out."
Rodriguez is accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath Citi Field and hitting him in the face. Pena was taken to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above his eyebrow.