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06/13/08 6:53 PM EST

Alou reluctantly returns to disabled list

Veteran sees just two pitches after coming back from injury

NEW YORK -- His return to active duty lasted only two pitches. The Mets officially placed Moises Alou back on the disabled list Friday with a strained left calf, casting extreme doubt onto how much more Alou might be able to help the team this year.

"I feel bad for him, I really do," manager Willie Randolph said. "Because I know he wants to be here. Sitting in my office talking with him, he was almost in tears. He's a proud guy who knows his importance to this club."

Alou, 41, spent nearly three weeks in late May and early June on the disabled list while battling the same injury, then proclaimed that his left calf was in fine condition when he reported back to the Mets on Tuesday. Yet after two at-bats, two pitches and two line drives, Alou began to feel tightness in his leg.

Randolph removed him from Tuesday's game following a lengthy rain delay, and Alou returned to Shea Stadium the following evening feeling no better.

"It's embarrassing for him," Randolph said. "Walking through the clubhouse, there's guys that look to him, and he's not there for them. It's very difficult."

The Mets recalled catcher Robinson Cancel from Triple-A New Orleans to take Alou's roster spot. The move could not be made retroactively because the Mets had optioned Cancel to New Orleans fewer than the requisite 10 days ago.

Alou began this season on the disabled list while recovering from hernia surgery, and landed back there with his calf injury after playing in only 14 games. He spent roughly two and a half months on the disabled list with a quad injury last season, and has not accumulated more than 345 at-bats in any season since 2005.

But when healthy, he can still hit. Alou was batting .347 in 49 at-bats this season, and finished at a .341 clip last year. Considering retirement this winter, Alou instead returned for a second season with the Mets, and reported to Spring Training in what he called, "the best shape of my life." He will be a free agent after the season.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.