PHILADELPHIA - As the Mets toiled late into Thursday night to secure a 9-5 win over the Phillies in 13 innings, Terry Collins checked in on David Wright.

The manager asked the team captain if his back was up for the marathon. Each time, Wright brushed off the questions, insisting he could stay in the game.

"If it's strategy, then yeah," said Wright, who singled twice. "But if it's because you're worried about me, don't bother."

In this instance, Collins left Wright in the game, which paid off in the 12th inning when the third baseman made a strong play to give the Mets a chance to rally.

Nevertheless, Collins has adopted a conservative stance with Wright, who played in only his third game since missing more than four months rehabbing from spinal stenosis.

While Wright is expected to play in Friday night's series opener against the Red Sox at Citi Field, beyond that is unclear. It was a shift from earlier in the week, when Wright was penciled in to remain in the lineup through Saturday.

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"I know I'm playing [Friday night], that's about the extent of it," said Wright, who acknowledged that he could be on a "strict schedule" as he gets up to speed after his long layoff.

Defensively, Wright looked more comfortable than he had in his previous two games.

He committed a pair of errors in his return on Monday, then flubbed a routine grounder that became an infield hit. Given the day off on Wednesday, he spent time working with third-base coach Tim Teufel.

"I worked the last couple of days with [Teufel], reactionary stuff, just trying to get comfortable over there," Wright said. "I think slowly but surely, I'm feeling more confident, more surehanded up there. The more innings I get, the more reps I get, I feel like I'm kind of able to exhale a little bit. Just relax and play my game."

Indeed, the two-time Gold Glover snared a liner in the sixth, then smoothly knocked down a hot shot to him in the eighth. But his best work may have come in the 12th, with the Mets still trying to extend the game.

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Cesar Hernandez poked a two-out single to center off Carlos Torres, stole second and motored to third when Travis d'Arnaud's throw wound up in centerfield. But Wright ended the threat by smothering a tricky short hop off the bat of Andres Blanco.

"I'd like to think I'm a good defender over there," Wright said. "So I expect to make the plays."