PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -Moises Alou will have surgery for a hernia and miss the start of the season, the most serious in a string of recent setbacks for the depleted New York Mets.
After reporting discomfort in his right groin, the oft-injured Alou left spring training camp Wednesday and was sent back to New York for tests. He is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday.
The 41-year-old left fielder is expected to resume baseball activities in four to six weeks, making it likely he'll be sidelined for at least most of April.
Alou batted .341 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 328 at-bats last season, when he was limited to 87 games because of a quadriceps injury. Now, six of New York's eight regulars are sidelined, plus one member of the rotation - and it's still early in spring training.
Remember all that excitement and bravado after Johan Santana was acquired from Minnesota last month? With the best pitcher in baseball suddenly on their side, the star-studded Mets were supposed to be NL favorites.
But age is becoming a major question mark for this team, which might be too injury-prone to win.
``I myself have never seen so many injuries at one time,'' general manager Omar Minaya said. ``The good thing is it's early in camp.''
Alou's injury overshadowed a strong outing by Santana in his second start this spring. The two-time Cy Young Award winner showed off his baffling changeup, striking out four in three innings of New York's 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
``I'm fine. I'm right where I'm supposed to be,'' said Santana, who threw 54 pitches.
The left-hander was matched up with fellow ace Brad Penny, who tossed three effective innings in his second start against the Mets in four days.
The Dodgers also lost a key player to injury when second baseman Jeff Kent was scratched from the lineup with a strained hamstring. He could miss at least a week.
``He's a veteran and with those guys when they get to this stage of their career you give them a little more leeway, a little more time,'' manager Joe Torre said.
Besides Alou, the Mets are missing first baseman Carlos Delgado (sore right hip), right fielder Ryan Church (concussion) and catcher Brian Schneider (hamstring). Center fielder Carlos Beltran (both knees), second baseman Luis Castillo (right knee) and pitcher Orlando Hernandez (toe) are yet to play in a spring training game because they're still rehabbing from offseason surgery.
In the bullpen, Duaner Sanchez reported soreness after his outing Friday against St. Louis, his first game since injuring his shoulder in a July 2006 taxi accident. He might not be ready to start the season.
``There is not going to be a set schedule with Duaner,'' Minaya said.
Then there's the bench.
Ruben Gotay hurt his right ankle sliding into home plate Sunday, though tests didn't show a fracture. Marlon Anderson bruised his sternum Saturday in a collision with Church. Damion Easley (ankle), Endy Chavez (ankle and hamstring) and Jose Valentin (knee) haven't played in a game yet because they're still recovering from previous injuries.
``Meet the Mets, greet the Mets'' goes the happy old song at Shea Stadium.
How about, ``Treat the Mets,'' with whatever is left in the training room?
``There's a difference between being banged-up and injured. We're not injured, we're banged-up,'' third baseman David Wright said before learning Alou would need surgery. ``Opening day, we're running out this lineup, then that's when it's time to panic a little bit. But right now, second week of spring training, these guys are fine.''
Wright and shortstop Jose Reyes were the only regular position players in the starting lineup Wednesday. Angel Pagan batted cleanup.
Anderson Hernandez had three hits, including a tiebreaking single in the bottom of the ninth off Tom Martin that gave the Mets their fifth straight victory - all in their final at-bat.
Notes: Orlando Hernandez threw a 45-pitch bullpen session and felt good in his new windup - without the high leg kick. The altered motion helps El Duque keep his back foot flat on the rubber during his delivery, which eases stress on his surgically repaired toe. ... Church said he felt awful Wednesday and the team told him to rest. He had been encouraged Tuesday when he worked out in a pool and felt much better. ... Delgado hit off a tee Wednesday. ... Mets RHP Pedro Martinez is scheduled to make his first spring training start Thursday night against Washington. ... Dodgers RHP Chan Ho Park struck out three in two scoreless innings.

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