They sat side by side in the visitors' training room at Roger Dean Stadium, one with the left side of his abdomen wrapped in ice and the...
JUPITER, Fla. — They sat side by side in the visitors’ training room at Roger Dean Stadium, one with the left side of his abdomen wrapped in ice and the other with his left shoulder entwined the same way. From outside, the faint sounds of a spring training game whispered into the Mets’ clubhouse.
David Wright had just played four innings in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, his first action of the spring. Johan Santana had just pitched five innings. The Mets won, 6-3, just their sixth victory this spring, but far more significant was that Wright was finally back and Santana had survived another outing with no outward signs that he was hurting.
Wright had been sidelined most of this spring with a torn abdominal muscle. It is an unpredictable injury that can lead to surgery, but Wright seems to have recovered by letting it heal on its own. On Monday, he went 1 for 2 at the plate and made a sparkling play at third base.
In recent days, Wright had been running, hitting, throwing and fielding, trying to speed up a process that would get him into a game.
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“You can do all the working out and conditioning that you want, but playing in a game is different,” he said after playing four innings. “I’m sure I’ll be a little sore tomorrow. But it’ll be a good sore.”
Wright’s presence in the Mets’ lineup came only 11 days from the season opener, with the club trying to find the right balance in getting him ready without rushing things. To that end, manager Terry Collins said Wright would not play Tuesday but would be back in the lineup Wednesday in a home game against the Washington Nationals.
“I can’t feel rushed or like I’m up against the clock, trying to cram innings in,” Wright said. “That’s when you hurt something else. I’ll just get my work in and take it kind of slow.”
Taking it slow, however, did not prevent him from diving to his right on a sharp second-inning grounder off the bat of Rafael Furcal and getting to his feet and throwing to first for the out.
“It’s a reaction position,” Wright said. “It was good to get tested.”
Then there were Wright’s two at-bats. In the first inning, he worked a 3-2 count against Jake Westbrook before grounding a sharp single up the middle. In the third inning, he grounded out to shortstop.
“I feel good,” Wright said. “I feel healthy. I got a chance to dive around a little bit, run the bases a little bit, see some pitches, get some at-bats. Now it’s just a matter of getting reps.”
Same with Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who is working his way back from shoulder surgery that cost him all of 2011. He has been solid this spring, giving the Mets hope that he can give them quality innings again.
Santana’s outing against St. Louis was a bit shaky — he walked three and hit a batter — but because he did not take a step back in terms of his injury, it was deemed a step forward.
“I was struggling locating my fastballs,” he said. “I wasn’t able to throw strikes. I made some adjustments and started hitting the inside corner. It was just one of those days.”
• Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones has undergone successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear in his left knee. He is expected to miss about three weeks of what he has said will be his final season.
• Injured Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera is certain he’ll be in the lineup on opening day. Cabrera rejoined his teammates a week after a bad-hop grounder in an exhibition game broke a bone below his right eye.
• Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list as he strives to return from a concussion.
• St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak is optimistic Chris Carpenter will pitch for the Cardinals this season. He just doesn’t know when. Carpenter, who has yet to appear in a spring training game, returned to Cardinals camp after four days of tests last week in St. Louis to determine the cause of a nerve ailment that has weakened his throwing shoulder. “Right now, the whole goal is to get his shoulder strengthened,” Mozeliak said. “We are not going to put any timetable on it yet.”