Sens goalie strikes out

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Senators goaltender Ray Emery has been stuck in the bullpen this year.

Now he's lost something off his fastball after tweaking his back playing pitch and catch Sunday while enjoying a day off.

Emery was forced to leave practice yesterday after his back tightened up.

"We went and threw the ball around (Sunday). It was a nice day. I guess I'm not in baseball shape," Emery said after practice at Scotiabank Place.

He was forced to leave the ice about 10 minutes before the end of practice.

COACH UNDERSTANDS

Did he do it hitting a home run or running the bases?

"Maybe throwing the pop flies. You've got to lean back and throw them up," he said.

"I was working out (yesterday) and I kind of felt a little tightening back there and I was limping around a bit. I've just got to come and stretch it out. I get it quite a bit. I'm sure guys can relate to it. You just tighten up back there sometimes."

Emery and Senators coach John Paddock talked about the situation before practice yesterday with Emery telling the coach how he hurt himself.

Paddock said he wasn't upset Emery hurt himself playing baseball.

"You can (hurt your back) taking a step upstairs or tying your shoes up. I know all about that," he said.

While the back injury isn't serious, it is a bit of a setback for Emery, who is fighting to win back playing time from Martin Gerber.

He certainly doesn't need to give Paddock and the rest of the coaching staff any reasons not to play him.

Emery is coming off wrist surgery in June. After helping the Senators to the Stanley Cup final, he was unable to start the season and lost his starter's job to Gerber.

Emery is coming off a loss to the Capitals which dropped his record to 2-1 with an .895 save percentage and a 3.00 GAA (which would be pretty good if it was an ERA).

Gerber is tops in the league with an 11-1 record (a Cy Young-type year, huh?), a 1.73 GAA and .943 save percentage.

Emery said he wasn't worried about the discomfort.

"It's not fun hobbling around. I don't expect it to be more than a day or two or so," he said.

NEWFOUND RESPECT

"I used to make fun of baseball players saying they don't have to do much, now that I kinked my back, I'm going to stop."

The good news yesterday was Senators centre Jason Spezza lasted the entire practice, his first with his teammates since injuring his groin Oct. 30 and missing the last six games.

Paddock said he didn't know yet if Spezza would be able to play Thursday night when the Senators host the Sabres.

"No idea," said Paddock. "It was good to see him out there for an hour of a pretty brisk skate, so that's a good sign ... I don't know if he's at a stage where he can say if he's going to play yet."


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