<
>

David Wright closing in on minor league games

MIAMI -- New York Mets captain David Wright is headed to Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Wednesday. Minor league games should follow soon thereafter.

On Tuesday at Marlins Park, Wright began the first of five straight days of rigorous baseball workouts. After completing that activity and taking Sunday off, Wright then appears poised to enter an official rehab game as he works back from spinal stenosis in his lower back.

"There's not much more preparation I can do other than games," Wright said. "... If it was on a schedule that I made up, I'd like to do that. Ultimately it's going to be a combined effort with doctors, trainers, physical therapists. I'm sure it's going to be a group discussion. It's not just going to be me saying, 'I think I'm ready,' because I think there are going to be some things that they want to see out of me these next five days."

Wright continues to be encouraged. He said wonderment about whether his back will act up as he does baseball moves has dissipated and he can now just concentrate on the task. He was particularly happy Tuesday when hitting coach Kevin Long watched his batting practice session. Long started giving Wright practical suggestions, such as about his stride, rather than simply asking how the captain's back felt.

"I'd rather be talked to like a baseball player, not a patient at a therapy clinic," Wright said. "It's been nice to start getting in the grind again and start thinking about baseball and talking shop with the coaches and the guys rather than being secluded in the training room or the therapy table getting worked on."

Wright's return is getting close enough that manager Terry Collins revealed Tuesday that he envisions Wright hitting in the No. 2 hole when he returns. That should give the Mets a typical top four in the order of Curtis Granderson, Wright, Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes.

"At this point I just want to get in the lineup," Wright said. "I haven't talked to him yet because I don't want to jinx anything, because things are going well with the rehab. At some point I'd like to talk to [Collins] and just express, 'Don't worry where you put me. Just I want to be in the lineup.' The way things are clicking right now, I don't want obviously to disrupt anything. I want to be part of the fun."

Wright said he does not know how many minor league at-bats he will require. He tried Googling how many at-bats he had when he returned from a two-month absence for a stress fracture in his lower back in 2011, but was unable to find the number. He figures someone with the organization still has a record. (He went 10-for-21 with Class A St. Lucie, for the record.)

"For two months you're having trouble standing for a while, walking. To be able to now go out there and do a normal pregame routine, it makes you feel good about the process, feel good about the work you've put in," Wright said. "Now you can kind of see the finish line and at least know that you're headed in the right direction. That feels very gratifying."