3/17/2013 4:39 P.M. ET
Wright returns, status for opener remains uncertain
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright spent his Sunday talking to teammates, trainers and coaches, chatting with reporters, sifting through mail. He didn't attempt any work with a baseball, bat or glove. Nor will he for at least a few days.
That does not mean Wright will be unavailable for Opening Day, any more than it portends the opposite. It was an optimistic, realistic and unapologetic third baseman who returned to Mets camp Sunday morning, pining for April 1 but not guaranteeing it.
"It's looking to predict the future -- I can't do that and I won't do that," Wright said. "I'll tell you that's my goal, but I can't predict one way or the other."
Speaking publicly for the first time since straining his left intercostal muscle during the World Baseball Classic, Wright insisted he reported his injury to the Mets in an appropriate manner, and received no scolding from the organization for not doing so sooner.
"Of course I owe it to be honest to them," Wright said. "And I was."
According to the third baseman, what began as a muscle tweak during training camp evolved into a more persistent pain, keeping him awake at night and eventually affecting his ability to play. But Wright did not see any need to report his injury to the Mets until it became an issue in his own mind.
"If I needed to call somebody every time I felt something," Wright said, "I wouldn't play too many games."
Instead, the Mets learned of the injury after Wright's name showed up on an official trainer's log in Miami. If they were perturbed about that at the time, they are not any longer.
"It's good to have David back," manager Terry Collins said. "He reassured me today he'll be ready. I'm not doubting him, but we certainly have to have a contingency plan in case he's not."
Back in Port St. Lucie, Wright will rest and receive treatment for another few days, allowing the cortisone he received Friday in Manhattan to work its way into his musculature. Sometime this week, Mets doctors will reevaluate Wright to determine the next step.
That should mean a return to baseball activities in what Wright anticipates will be a rapid progression. Because he received 19 plate appearances during Classic play and another 12 before departing for it, Wright does not believe his recovery will take as long as it did last March, when he strained a left oblique muscle before ever playing in a competitive game. That injury resulted in a three-week fundamentals progression that delayed his Grapefruit League debut by a month.
Not only is this injury different in nature, Wright said, but his body is better prepared to combat it thanks to his preparations for the Classic.
"One hundred percent that's my goal -- to be ready for Opening Day," Wright said. "I think that's possible.
To that end, a realistic progression would have Wright returning to Grapefruit League play toward the end of March. But much can happen to change that timetable, as the Mets have seen first hand this spring with starting pitcher Johan Santana, closer Frank Francisco and second baseman Daniel Murphy, all of whom have yet to appear in a big league game.
"I just have to rest for a few days and hopefully knock out that pain," Wright said. "The quicker I can get the pain out of my ribcage, the quicker I can play."
For Wright, one of the more disturbing aspects of this injury was that it tore him away from Team USA, which had begun looking to him as its unofficial leader. Due in part to Wright's proficiency at the plate, including a .438 average and 10 RBIs in four games, broadcasters in Miami dubbed the third baseman "Captain America." His USA teammates quickly embraced the nickname.
"I'm glad that people viewed me that way," Wright said. "I'm very appreciative. But I wasn't doing anything different than I would do here."
For his regular teammates, that's precisely the point; now that Wright is back in camp, the Mets appear positioned to name him the fourth captain in franchise history, joining a list that includes Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco. The official title may wait until he is healthy, but the nickname that Wright earned with Team USA may take on a more tangible definition with the Mets.
"I've said all along that it would be very special to me, that it would be an incredible honor considering the other guys that have been captain of this franchise," Wright said. "It's something that I would take very seriously."