NEW YORK -- David Wright's absence from Saturday's Mets lineup was no surprise around the Citi Field clubhouse; given the wet, windy conditions that threatened the game itself, the Mets felt it prudent to rest Wright and his back. Wilmer Flores started at third base in his stead.
Wright's first scheduled night of rest, however, spawned a question with which the Mets may grapple all season: Given how long it takes Wright to get ready for games, how accessible will his bat be off the bench on nights when he does not start?
"That's an absolutely great question and I don't have an answer for it," manager Terry Collins said. "I just don't know how much time he's going to need to get himself loosened up."
Early in the season, Collins said, the Mets may err on the side of not using Wright. But despite damp conditions throughout Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Phillies, the third baseman began warming in the seventh inning for a potential pinch-hit opportunity. Had the Mets placed a runner on base in the ninth, Collins said, Wright would have hit.
The Mets are going to have to give Wright similar notice if they want to use him as a pinch-hitter this season -- which they certainly will, given the expectation that he will be missing from the starting lineup a few dozen times. What they won't do is risk the health of Wright, who will play the rest of his career with spinal stenosis -- a narrowing of his spinal column.
Saturday offered a hint at what's to come when Wright is not in the starting lineup. The Mets will work out further logistics as the summer progresses; for now, they are mostly focused on giving Wright proper rest before his back starts barking -- not after.
"He's been great about it," Collins said. "As much as he's a grinder, he's realistic to know that ... he's got to monitor this. As I tell my players all the time, I'd rather not have David Wright one day than 15. So we've got to be smart enough to say, 'Look, tonight's the night.'"