PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The more mysterious, the more seemingly ominous. David Wright provided half-answers and spoke vaguely, and with each word he spoke Saturday morning, the WhatEverItIs that caused him to be scratched from one of the intrasquad game lineups became more curious.
Official word from the Mets is that Wright has stiffness of the left rib cage. Mets manager Terry Collins pointed to his own side and indicated that was the troubled area for his third baseman. Wright wasn't even that precise. He called in stiffness, period, end of diagnosis.
The problem -- if it can be rightfully characterized as that -- began early in the week when Wright fielded a ground ball and sensed something in his side. Some of his training-camp activity was limited thereafter as a result. But Wright said he had worked out at full speed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and that he was prepared to play in the team's second intrasquad game Saturday morning.
He was scratched and told he would play Monday evening when the Mets play their first Spring Training game, against the Nationals at 6:10 p.m. ET on MLB.TV.
"If these were real games, I'd be playing," he said.
Wright wore a wrap around his midsection after the workout Friday and again Saturday. He said he did so for "preventative" reasons.
His health/readiness to play became an issue last season, when he suffered a stress fracture of his back. He was assigned to the disabled list from May 16 to July 22. His offensive production following his return was not consistent with what he and the club had come to expect. His back is not the problem now.
Wright doesn't enjoy discussing any injury or whatever residual effects that may develop. But half-answers fuel speculation among people paid to be curious, skeptical and cynical.
For Dickey, building arm strength just as key
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Knuckleball pitchers can throw forever, right? They can start Monday and Thursday and Monday, if need be. And they can give you an inning or two in between starts. At this time of the baseball calendar, though, they're much like their conventional-pitch brethren. A need to condition their arms for the impending season exists, no question.
So it is that R.A. Dickey needs a training camp as much as Justin Verlander and more than Mariano Rivera.
"My intention is to throw 200 innings," Dickey said. "So I very much have to build up my arm strength."
The Mets starter has been throwing since mid-January. He took a significant step Saturday. He pitched two innings in he team's second intrasquad game. He threw quantity as well as quality.
"On a scale of 1 to 10," Dickey said, "I was about a 6. Some good ones [like the first pitch to Jason Bay] in the first inning, some not so good [like the second one to Bay]."
"The first one was [down and away], virtually impossible for anyone to hit," Bay said. "The second was up here [chest high]. That's the kind that can get him in trouble."
Such is the life for a man who makes a living -- a pretty good one these days -- with the most fickle weapon in the game. The knucleball comes, and it goes. And no matter the direction, it moves like nothing else in sports other than a punt that bounces seven times.
"What I'm looking for at this stage," Dickey said, "is good movement and swings and misses. If [the hitters] are hitting just pieces of the ball or swinging and missing, then it's good. I mean, they all know what's coming. But I know at this point, I have more work to do."
Single-game tickets on sale today
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Single-game tickets for Mets home games are on sale beginning Monday at 10 a.m. ET at Mets.com.
The club announced Saturday the addition of the Mets Concert Series and Fireworks Night to the 2012 promotional schedule at Citi Field. The Friday-night postgame concert series will feature REO Speedwagon following the night game the against the Reds on June 15; Cheap Trick after the night game against the Dodgers on July 20, and MercyMe, a Christian rock band, following the night game against the Braves on Aug. 10.
Fireworks Night follows the Mets' night game against the Phillies on July 3.
Worthy of note
Third-base coach Tim Teufel wore No. 11 as a Mets second baseman in the '80s and into the '90s. He had hoped to retain it this year in his return to the big league team. But Teufel now wears No. 18. He is the 17th person to wear No. 18 since Darryl Strawberry in 1990.
"So," he was asked Saturday morning, "when did you turn 18?"
His response: "When Ruben Tejada got No. 11."
Tejada has worn 11 in each of his four big league tours in the last two seasons. It's his now.
In another colorful game, Team Blue defeated Team Orange, 4-1, in seven intrasquad innings on Saturday. Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Jason Bay, Justin Turner and Lucas Duda had two hits each. A third intrasquad game is scheduled for Sunday at about noon ET.
Scott Hairston was removed from Saturday's intrasquad game after he strained his left oblique. He suffered a similar injutry last season and lost significant time. A swing in the first inning resulted in the injury. Manager Terry Collins expressed concern because the strain is in the same general area as the one Hairston suffered last year. Hairston said he was pleased the injury happened now and not late in camp.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.