Wright diagnosed with intercostal strain
Mets third baseman, starring in Classic, will cease activity for three to five days
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- David Wright's dream World Baseball Classic run turned out to be short-lived. Less than a week after the third baseman's proficiency in international play earned him the nickname "Captain America," Wright has seen his life descend into a string of medical examinations and injury uncertainty.
Wright will rest for the next three to five days, general manager Sandy Alderson said on Friday, after an exam by team doctors in New York revealed a moderate strain of his left intercostal. Though that timeline still gives Wright more than a week to prepare for Opening Day, it thrusts his availability for the opener in doubt.
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"Anything about his condition for Opening Day, I think right now, would be speculative," Alderson said. "Is it possible he will be out for a period of time? Sure. But what we know right now is [that] he's going to rest for three to five days, and we'll see what happens."
Wright, who was a late scratch from Thursday's Classic game because of the injury, will fly back to Florida on Saturday. Padres third baseman Chase Headley has already accepted an invitation to join Team USA in San Francisco for the semifinals, should the Americans advance.
In his only public comments since the scratch, Wright described bouts of discomfort severe enough to keep him awake at night. He said he had been experiencing the issue for the better part of a week.
Alderson noted that the Mets were unaware of Wright's injury until Thursday but stayed in contact with him up until minutes before first pitch of the U.S.-Dominican Republic game in Miami. Once the Mets learned of the situation, they asked doctors in Miami to re-examine Wright before ultimately deciding to hold him out of the game.
"I'm not sure exactly when this was first experienced, but he had hoped it would go away," Alderson said. "It didn't, and he felt the responsibility to deal with it. And when we were alerted, we took what we thought was the right course of action."
Wright, who batted .438 with a game-winning grand slam, two doubles, 10 RBIs, four runs scored and 12 total bases over his first four Classic games, leaned against the dugout rail for most of Thursday's game while Arizona's Willie Bloomquist started at third.
Alderson does not blame Wright for keeping quiet about his injury, which he said he first felt during Classic workouts in Arizona last week. Nor was manager Terry Collins particularly surprised when he first heard the news on Friday morning.
"David's a guy that doesn't overreact to things," Alderson said. "He's committed. When he makes commitments, he wants to execute on them, carry them out. I'm sure he felt a responsibility to Team USA, and this was a difficult development for him to accept. But in the final analysis, we felt this was the right thing to do."
"This guy played a month with a broken back two years ago," Collins said, referencing the stress fracture that forced Wright to the disabled list in 2011. "Anything he does doesn't surprise me. He's a tough kid. Real tough."
Still, Wright's history of core injuries is growing. In addition to the two months he sat out in 2011, Wright missed significant time last spring with a strained left abdominal muscle, an injury that ultimately required a cortisone shot.
Midsection injuries have plagued the Mets over the past calendar year, with Wright, Daniel Murphy, Jason Bay, Scott Hairston and Andres Torres all missing multiple weeks due to various strains.
This season is Wright's first since signing an eight-year, $138 million contract over the winter.
Should Wright's latest injury linger past Opening Day, Justin Turner and Zach Lutz are the obvious internal candidates to replace him. The Mets optioned top infield prospect Wilmer Flores to Minor League camp on Friday but have four others -- Turner, Lutz, Brandon Hicks and Brian Bixler -- with experience at the position.
Collins said that Turner will receive the bulk of Grapefruit League playing time going forward, because the Mets have seen little of him at third base this spring. Lutz, who is enjoying a strong spring, rapped out two hits as the first baseman on Friday to increase his average to .355. Hicks started at third and finished 1-for-2 with an RBI double and two walks.
Still, none of those players resembles Wright or figures to approach his offensive production. Knowing that, the Mets simply hope their franchise player's injury does not linger.
"I didn't hear about it until this morning, so I didn't exactly have the best breakfast in the world today," Collins said. "It was a little sour tasting today. But you've got to move on. You've got to get somebody else ready until he's ready to play."