09/02/09 1:38 AM ET
Wright sports new helmet in return
Mets slugger had been out since Aug. 15 with a concussion
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
"I don't ever want to go on the DL," Wright said before Tuesday's 8-3 loss to the Rockies. "I want to be out there if we're winning the division, if we're losing the division, if we're 15 games out, 10 games out, whatever. I want to be in there fighting with my teammates and finishing out the season."
Manager Jerry Manuel expects Wright to get the vast majority of the remaining starts at third base, but he has already decided to give Wright Wednesday off.
"I've made my mind up to sit him tomorrow. I just want to be sure," Manuel said Tuesday. "Once we get home [Friday], he should be ready to just play the rest of the year, with an occasional break here or there."
Wright singled to left on the first pitch he saw Tuesday, fueling a two-run rally in the first inning. He was 1-for-3 with a walk, a run and two strikeouts in the loss.
"I wasn't there for long," Wright said, laughing about his first at-bat. "I was more anxious than anything. I was excited. But it felt good, the first at-bat. I saw the ball better than I thought I was tonight. My timing was a little off and the pitchers made some good pitches. I felt a lot better than I thought I would."
As someone who has played at least 154 games in each of his four full seasons since breaking into the big leagues with a 2004 callup -- and 160 games in three of the four campaigns -- the time on the bench has not been easy for Wright.
"You take for granted going out there and playing every day when you're not allowed to go out and play," Wright said, hesitant to say if the two-week break has helped refresh him. "Physically, I don't know until I get out there on the field and I'm going at things at game speed. Sitting back the last couple weeks and just watching the game has allowed me to learn a lot about what goes on, seeing things from a different perspective, what we can improve on, what we need to do more as a team successfully. It's allowed me to go into the cage and work at some things that I felt like I was struggling with at the time I got hurt."
The one thing that can't be replicated in any kind of sustained break from big league games is the timing in the batter's box, and Tuesday's game gave Wright a good chance to see how close he is to recapturing the zone he was in when he went on the DL. Wright was fourth in the National League with a .324 batting average when he went on the DL, and he had recently completed an 11-game hitting streak, his fourth double-digit streak of the season. He faces southpaw Jorge De La Rosa on Tuesday, and Wright is hitting an NL-best .432 (38-for-88) against lefties on the season.
"I think you will see a more energized player, but I think the danger of two weeks is the rhythm at the plate," Manuel said. "It's hard to continue to have that rhythm with that type of time off. He is capable of getting it back together. But I do know that he'll be fresh, physically -- and probably mentally as well."
Part of Wright's energized look may have come from the new batting helmet he was sporting, a new model by Rawlings meant to give added protection. It has an aerodynamic look, but it is slightly on the bulky side, and Wright admitted to some issues with the fit, particularly when running the bases. The helmet slipped down while he was running and flew off when he slid, prompting a suggestion that he add a chin strap.
"There needs to be a few adjustments," Wright said after taking the helmet out for a spin. "I really don't care what I look like. If it provides a little more safety, I'm all for it. We need to work on getting it to fit a little better so it's a little more snug.
"Those guys were laughing at me on the other side. Our guys were laughing at me. All the guys on the field were yelling at me, so everything's back to normal I guess."
In addition to activating Wright from the DL, the Mets also called up catcher Josh Thole from Double-A Binghamton, where he hit .328, third best in the Eastern League, and threw out 26 of 86 baserunners for a .302 caught-stealing percentage.
"I had no idea what was going to happen," Thole said of the leap from Double-A to the Majors. "I just tried to finish my season in Binghamton strong and go from there."
Manuel plans to start Thole in Thursday's season finale with the Rockies, pairing him with left-hander Pat Misch on the mound, to take advantage of the expanded roster. Omir Santos started Tuesday and Brian Schneider is set to catch Wednesday.
Thole had been with his team in Akron when he got the news Monday during batting practice, and his family is well-represented in the Coors Field stands.
"It's amazing, there's no question about it," Thole said of his first day in a big league uniform. "It's been a dream come true."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.