Wright's back tested quickly by KC in opener

Hosmer's bunt could be sign of things to come for veteran third baseman

Wright's back tested quickly by KC in opener

KANSAS CITY -- For better or for worse, the Royals place clear trust in their advance scouting department. First-base coach Rusty Kuntz famously opined after World Series Game 5 that the Royals believed they could run on Mets first baseman Lucas Duda; they did, and it worked, even if the philosophy behind that might forever be debated.

So perhaps it was just another Royals quirk when Eric Hosmer laid down a perfect bunt in the sixth inning of Sunday's 4-3 Mets loss, furthering a rally that knocked Matt Harvey out of the game. Or perhaps it was a sign of things to come -- that in his first full season back from a spinal stenosis diagnosis, Wright will see opposing hitters test him at third base on a regular basis.

"I guess we'll find out," Wright said. "The last thing I'm guarding against with their [No. 4] hitter is a bunt. So you tip your cap to him."

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For now, Wright can tip his cap and consider Hosmer's bunt an isolated event. With Wright shifted over nearly to shortstop on the play against the left-handed Hosmer, even a good throw would not have nabbed him at first. It is the type of surprise play a power hitter can get away with only so often before teams catch on.

But the throw that followed was weak enough to prompt concern anyway: a sidearm offering with precious little mustard on it. An inning earlier, another soft Wright throw allowed Omar Infante to beat out an infield single. Those two plays were eye-catching enough, without even mentioning Wright's 0-for-4, two-strikeout night at the plate -- punctuated by a key whiff with the tying run on third base and one out in the ninth.

This was the concern when the Mets eased Wright into Spring Training, preferring to give him regular rest over regular game reps. Once he finally did begin playing in mid-March, he played just 55 defensive innings at third base. Ten balls were hit to Wright.

So while anxiety may be mounting over Wright's abilities, particularly defensively, it's important to remember that he may need more time to round into form. It's important also to remember that by his own admission, he is not healed. Wright never will be. Spinal stenosis is a medical condition he must manage for the rest of his career.

The trick is how exactly Wright manages it at age 33, and how well he is able to play. His three-hour pregame routine includes intense stretching and resistance band work, at the expense of high-volume fielding and batting cage work. Wright believes in his program, brushing aside questions regarding his physical ability; if he is on the field, he expects to perform.

"I wish we would have won," Wright added minutes after the Mets' Opening Night loss. "But everything else feels pretty good."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.