Delgado uncertain of timing for return

May 28, 2009 10:05:11 PM PDT
Carlos Delgado walked stiffly into a women's clothing section of an upscale apparel and accessory store in this tony town Thursday night with his two helpers, a pair of trusty crutches. The Mets first baseman plopped down in a waiting chair, ready to make his first public comments since undergoing surgery on his right hip May 19. He offered no timetable for his return this season. No money-back guarantees that he would even return this season, either.

He was very hopeful, though.

"I think it's going to happen sometime this year. I can't guarantee nothing," Delgado said at the third annual Mets Foundation "Teammates in the Community" charitable fundraising event, featuring current and former Mets players and team personnel mingling with fans.

"When I'm healthy, I'm going to come back," he said. "No one really knows. The doctors said everything went well, but it's going to take a little while to heal. Some people are talking about eight weeks, some people about 10 weeks. The plan is to get healthy first and once I'm good to play for the duration, I'm going back."

He went into the operation to remove a bone spur and repair a torn labrum thinking positive thoughts, and he has come out of it the same way. Delgado, who is 27 homers short of joining the 500 club, said he plans on playing next season as well, although he will turn 37 next month and his contract expires after this season.

"I feel pretty good, didn't have a whole lot of pain after surgery," said Delgado, who aggravated the hip with a slide into home on April 26 against Washington at Citi Field. "The surgery went really well. I started doing my rehab last Saturday, pretty light stuff, which is what the doctor ordered. So far, so good."

Delgado said he will be on crutches for another week or so. He has done a lot of sitting in bed, watching television. Mets games have been must-see events, be it on TV or in person.

"I've got to watch the boys," Delgado said. "I've been watching them on TV. I was at the stadium last night. I was at the stadium on Monday. I'm trying to keep up. It's weird being at home in May. I want to be around the guys quite a bit."

The Mets have gone 9-7 since his last game May 10. But they are riding a streak of three straight wins and have won five of six, allowing them to overtake Philadelphia for first place in the NL East. Despite having six key players on the disabled list right now, the Mets are 26-20 and up by a half game heading into their series opener against Florida on Friday night at Citi Field.

"That's what winning teams do," Delgado said.

Delgado said he isn't concerned about whether General Manager Omar Minaya pulls off a trade for a first baseman in the interim.

Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis have been the primary replacements. Murphy was stuck in a 3-for-36 slump before breaking out in Wednesday's 7-4 win over the visiting Nationals with a homer among his three hits and five RBIs.

"I definitely felt a lot more relaxed in there," Murphy said. "I wasn't panicking. I didn't rush. I didn't rush my swing. I let the ball come to me, and fortunately good things happened."

When Delgado left the picture, he was batting .298 with four homers and 23 RBIs. When he returns, manager Jerry Manuel is expecting more of the same, or better. Delgado had a large second half last season, batting .303 with 21 homers and 63 RBIs after the All-Star break.

"I think because he's a first baseman, he doesn't have to be in a position that requires a lot of range and ... it never really bothered him to hit," Manuel said. "I look for him really to be fresh and pain free and do what he did last August and September."