MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Wright's comeback shows positive early signs

Mets third baseman adjusting to physical limitations

Wright's comeback shows positive early signs

NEW YORK -- This was David Wright's 12th home opener as a member of the Mets on Friday at Citi Field, and now he has at least one hit in every one of them. But never have so many forces collided for the captain and third baseman.

There was the raising of the 2015 National League pennant prior to what would turn out to be an easy 7-2 win over the Phillies in a game the Mets broke open late with four runs in the seventh inning.

But even more so, there was Wright beginning an entire season at age 33 on a new training regimen in an attempt to avoid any complications from the spinal stenosis in his lower back that was diagnosed last year.

It's a chronic condition Wright will have to deal with for the rest of his life. To say that Mets management is worried and the faithful fans are worried would be an understatement.

"Hey, I'm worried," Wright said candidly after hitting a double, walking and looking alternately graceful and awful in the field. "Believe me, I worry about myself."

How will Wright prevail? How much does he have left? Those are questions that will only be answered as the season transpires and the Mets try to go back to the World Series and win it for the first time since 1986.

"He's going to be fine, he's going to be fine. He hasn't played a lot," manager Terry Collins said. "He's taken a lot of time off and right now he's about at mid-Spring Training. It'll start warming up, and these cold days are tough for him."

To that end, Collins said he has already talked to Wright about this weekend, and because of pending weather conditions, Wright probably will sit out Saturday night's game against Philadelphia and play Sunday.

Collins is trying to figure out a pattern of playing Wright without taxing him, although Wright's inclination is always to be in the lineup every day.

Collins sounded pretty certain about the decision, but Wright seemed a bit hazy.

"Terry said he wanted to talk to me about it and we've yet to go into details," Wright said. "I know he said he wanted to give me one of these two days off, but it has yet to be determined."

When Wright was told it had been determined, he added: "Well, he's the boss. He makes those decisions. That's why he gets paid the big bucks. I'm about No. 5 on the list when it comes to all that. He makes the lineup."

Wright played in only 10 Grapefruit League games, beginning on March 18, and had 29 at-bats. Because of the strange opening of the season this past Sunday in Kansas City, the Mets have only played three games in six days, giving Wright only 11 more at-bats. Thus far, he has just two hits -- no homers and no RBIs.

Last season, when Wright was diagnosed with the malady, he missed every game from April 14 to Aug. 24, spending more time in rehab at the Los Angeles clinic of renowned back surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins than on the field.

In the end, Wright had 152 regular-season at-bats with only five homers and 17 RBIs, adding 54 at-bats in the postseason.

In his club's five-game loss to the Royals in the World Series, Wright hit .208 (5-for-24) with a homer and four RBIs. He made a throwing error in the 14th inning that cost the Mets Game 1, and was involved in the crazy play during the ninth inning of Game 5, which allowed Kansas City to tie the score on a throwing error to the plate by first baseman Lucas Duda. The Royals won the Series with five runs in the 12th inning.

On Friday, Wright made a nifty barehanded pick up of a Odubel Herrera bunt in the fourth inning and tossed out the speedy runner at first.

"It's the way you want to do it," Wright said. "Just like normal."

But in the eighth, Wright's throw on a routine grounder hit by Peter Bourjos pulled Duda off the bag for an error.

Three plays later, Wright missed a wind-blown pop fly hit by Herrera to the left of the mound with runners on first and second and one out. Despite the infield fly rule being called on the play, the Phillies ran with abandon and Wright was able to turn the gaffe into a rare double play that ended the inning.

Mets turn a unique double play

"I'd like to say that that's the way we drew it up and we worked on it in Spring Training, but that's not quite the truth," Wright joked.

This all illustrates that Wright is well into uncharted territory. He's trying to bring back the magic of those years when he made seven All-Star appearances and dominated the NL.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "I think it will be beneficial, not just for our club, but for all of baseball, when the weather warms up a little bit. But so far, so good. I had a chance to work on it in Spring Training, and at least I have a decent grasp of what I have to do to prepare for a game."

That includes close to three hours of pregame therapy and many fewer repetitive swings in the batting cage and ground balls hit to him on the field. It's a daunting task and a change of routine that many a player might reject at this stage of his career and life. Not Wright.

"He does this every day, every day," Collins said. "He's absolutely amazing, an amazing guy."

Amazing, for sure, but the jury on all this is decidedly still out.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.