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El Duque leaves camp to get neck examined

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Orlando Hernandez left the New York
Mets' spring training camp and returned to New York to have his
neck examined.

El Duque, slated to be the No. 2 starter behind Tom Glavine in
the Mets' shaky starting rotation, felt discomfort in his neck last
season and the soreness returned this spring training, New York
general manager Omar Minaya said before Thursday's workout.

Hernandez went 11-11 with a 4.66 ERA last season, including 9-7
with a 4.09 ERA after the Mets acquired him from Arizona in late
May. The 41-year-old right-hander missed the playoffs because of a
torn calf muscle.

New York already is without Pedro Martinez, out until midseason
following rotator cuff surgery. Among those competing for starting
jobs are prospects Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey, and veterans
Jorge Sosa, Chan Ho Park, Jason Vargas, Juan Padilla and Aaron Sele.