David Wright went 1-for-2 at the plate and had a highlight-reel fielding play at third base in his first Grapefruit League game of spring training. He pronounced the effort a success.
Wright, who tore an abdominal muscle early in camp, worked the count full before singling up the middle in the first inning against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook. Wright grounded out to shortstop in his second at-bat.
New York Mets
"You can do all the conditioning and working out that you want," Wright said. "But, then, playing in a game is different. When you have to get up, get down, get up, get down, trying to prepare for your at-bats the way you do, it's a little different. So I'm sure I'll be a little sore tomorrow.
"Kind of the smaller details of the game I had to think about, rather than just going out and reacting," he continued. "That's what the next week, or nine days or whatever, is for -- just kind of [getting] to where it's a reaction rather than having to think about it too much."
The highlight -- aside from Wright actually playing -- was a diving stop toward the third-base line on a hard grounder off the bat of Rafael Furcal in the second inning. Wright threw in time to first base. He also completed a routine play in the third inning, to his left.
"We need him. There's no question about it," Johan Santana said. "And he made a play right away. I tell him, 'Guard the line.' He did it, just like he always does. It was good to see him back."
Said Wright: "It's a reaction position. You're out there and you can try to think and prepare as much as you want. When it comes down to it, it's reacting to the ball off the bat. I got a pretty good jump on that one. So it was good to get tested. With Johan pitching, I usually see quite a few balls down there. It's good that I got some balls hit to me. And it's good that I got to see some pitches. I went full count the first at-bat. I think it was 2-2 the second at-bat. So I got to see some pitches, too."
Wright departed after logging four innings. He was replaced by Ronny Cedeno.
Terry Collins said Wright would sit out Tuesday's Grapefruit League game, but would definitely reenter the lineup by Wednesday and play two or three straight days -- once, potentially, in a minor league game. Collins wanted Wright to play Monday behind Santana, rather than wait a day for a home game, because the manager knew the southpaw induces a lot of groundballs to third base.
"I can't feel rushed, or I can't feel like I'm up against the clock, to go out there and start cramming innings in, because that's when you get hurt somewhere else," Wright said. "Not just the current thing going on, but also you go out there and start pushing yourself when your body is not ready for it, something else will get hurt."
As for the number of at-bats he needs to be sharp for the season, Wright said: "I don't know. I've always participated fully in spring training. Obviously I'm not going to get that many. But I don't think there's a magic number. I've mentioned before, I missed two months of the season last year, and had about a week of at-bats in minor league games, and felt like I was pretty caught up speed-wise."
Wright even downplayed his single.
"I don't think that's an indication of my timing," Wright said. "I'm going to need a lot of work on that -- or, more work on that."
Said Collins: "He's an integral part of this team, a huge part of this team, and it's great to have him back. He felt very comfortable out there. Actually, I was going to take him out after three, and he wanted to stay in there for the fourth inning of defense. That tells you all about his makeup and the way he approaches it. And that's why we need him in our lineup."