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06/29/08 2:00 PM ET

Mets activate Church in time for finale

To make room for right fielder, Nixon placed on 15-day DL

NEW YORK -- Conveniently, on the same day a roster spot needed to be cleared for right fielder Ryan Church -- preferably another outfielder to keep the numbers intact -- Trot Nixon was sent to the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a left groin strain.

Nixon, always known as a gritty player, has been playing with the injury in recent contests, according to Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

"He played as hard as he could, battled as hard as he could," Manuel said. "It limited him somewhat, but he would never mention that it did. He just wanted to play, so hopefully this will give him a chance to heal and rest up a bit."

Acquired from the Diamondbacks for cash considerations on June 13, Nixon went 6-for-35 with one RBI in 11 games with the Mets. He had been playing with the D-backs' Triple-A affiliate in Tucson, Ariz., before he made his way up to New York.

One player's nuisance is another's roster spot, as Church returned to the lineup against the Yankees in the Subway Series finale on Sunday. Church was placed on the DL with post-concussion syndrome on June 9 retroactive to when he was pulled from the lineup against the Padres on June 6.

The date that Church would actually see the field again wasn't as precise as any date on the calendar, though. He first sustained the injury on May 20 against the Braves -- his second concussion of the season -- but Church would return to make pinch-hit appearances in Atlanta and Colorado only a couple of days later. One at-bat on May 26 would be his last of that month, as he would return for four games in early June.

Batting .300 before Sunday's return, Church has admitted that he tried to play through some symptoms before hitting the disabled list for a much-needed rest. Now the challenge will be getting Church back into baseball shape.

Before returning to the No. 6 spot in the batting order on Sunday, Church made two rehab starts with Class A Brooklyn, going 3-for-6 in two starts -- one as a designated hitter and the other in the field. But if Manuel can't find an off-day for Church in the coming weeks, the right fielder will just have to play himself back into shape.

"You have to play baseball -- that's one thing," Manuel said. "You can run around the track, lift all of the weights, but with baseball, you have to play."

Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.