David Wright goes 0-for-4 in return to the lineup as Mets fall to Braves

Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese heads to the dugout
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Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese heads to the dugout after giving up two runs to the Atlanta Braves in the top of the eighth inning of a game at Citi Field.(Credit: Errol Anderson)

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As David Wright eagerly returned to the Mets' lineup Thursday night, no one needed to tell him the good that a streak of doubles and home runs would do for him.

A fan base tired of worrying about what will go wrong next could use some positive developments, and seeing the old power-hitting Wright make a cameo in these final weeks of another lost season would qualify.

Wright agrees.

"For me, with the way things have gone up until this point, there's no sense in whining about it, moping around and hanging your head," he said. "I can use this next month to do well, get as many team wins as possible but also hopefully get it going for me offensively to help me springboard into next year."

Then, in his first appearance since leaving Sunday's game with neck spasms, he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double-play ball in the Mets' 6-1 loss to the Braves at Citi Field.

In other words, it was more of the same from the Mets' captain. "He's had a very un-David-like year," manager Terry Collins said.

At 62-72, the Mets need to run the table in their final 28 games to finish with 90 wins, the much-talked-about goal that general manager Sandy Alderson set in spring training.

Instead, they find themselves entering September staring at their sixth straight losing season. Their fans know the upcoming drill all too well: It's time to start viewing games with an eye on next year.

And offensively, everything about 2015 begins with Wright, who's expected to carry the load and happens to be experiencing his worst season. Is this a product of injuries? Or is it the beginning of a downhill arc for the 31-year-old?

"You search for answers," Wright said. "There's not always a concrete thing as to why the team struggles or why an individual struggles. I think the important thing for all of us is to try to finish up as strong as we can."

Having been cleared by the medical staff to return to the lineup after taking batting practice, Wright took the field looking to start off the final four-plus weeks on a positive note.

Like so much else this season, the night didn't go according to plan.

"We've all seen what David can do," Collins said. "He's had a tough year . . . And as we know in this game, it happens. You can't be great every day, every year."

This week Wright acknowledged for the first time that, yes, his left shoulder has been bothering him. But at the same time, he insists the shoulder is not why he hasn't hit a home run since July 11, marking a span of 146 at-bats.

The Mets have not ruled out the possibility of shutting down Wright for the season, but he says he wants no part of that. With 28 games remaining, he wants to make something good out of what's left of this already lost season.

After Thursday night, he has three hits in his last 31 at-bats and only one extra-base hit in 94 at-bats, a double on Aug. 7. Juan Lagares (.388) has a higher slugging percentage than Wright (.365).

"It's one of those years where he's had some struggles," Collins said. "But I think if he finishes strong, it will be a real positive thing for him to go into the wintertime with."

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