PHILADELPHIA -- Forget X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound tests. For anyone still skeptical about David Wright's ability to play baseball with a fractured right pinkie finger, he quickly convinced the nonbelievers yesterday.
When Wright stepped up to the plate in the first inning, the questions lingered. Was he rushed back? Could he hold a bat firmly enough? All it took was a first-pitch fastball from Vance Worley to provide those answers and more.
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Wright, after a four-day absence, hammered the welcome-back pitch for a long home run that caromed off the ivy-covered brick wall in centerfield, high above the 409-foot mark. He added two singles and also made a nice spinning defensive play to help the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-0, for their second consecutive win at Citizens Bank Park.
"I'm glad that I was able to go out there and in that first at-bat get some confidence," Wright said. "It's good for the psyche."
Not only for Wright, either. Perhaps spurred on by the face of the franchise, Lucas Duda snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Ruben Tejada tacked on an RBI single in the ninth. The Mets improved to 6-2, their best start since they opened 7-1 in 2006, the year of their last NL East title.
Manager Terry Collins, who talked with Wright before inserting him in the lineup, was thrilled to see him go deep on the very first pitch.
"Might as well see how it feels," Collins said. "Might as well swing as hard as you can so you get it over with, see if there's any pain. I'm not surprised. He's been swinging great. A few days off, goes back in there and still swinging great. That's why he's a star."
Collins wasn't trying to do it, but that brought to mind Fred Wilpon's comments of a year ago, when the Mets' principal owner described Wright as "a really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."
Whatever the case, there is no disputing Wright's leadership qualities after seeing what he did in his first game back with a broken finger.
"I think it's going to be huge for us," Collins said before Saturday's game. "I think when you see this guy who's going out there, the face of this team, the face of this organization, going out there, playing with a broken finger, the hamstrings may not be as tight as they were at one time.
"I don't mean to make a joke about it. But if you're a guy on this team and you're seeing the star on this team is playing with a broken finger, if I have got a sore shoulder, throw some aspirin down and let's go. Let's tee it up."
Jonathon Niese allowed five hits in 62/3 innings and combined with two relievers on the Mets' second shutout in the eight-year history of Citizens Bank Park. Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez teamed up for the other on Aug. 7, 2010. Niese struck out five and walked one.
Wright was 3-for-5 to raise his batting average to .588 (10-for-17) with two home runs and five RBIs in five games. Less than 24 hours after sounding like a lock to go on the disabled list, Wright returned to the lineup, and Collins seemed as surprised as everyone else.
"I was doubtful he was going to be OK," Collins said of Friday's conversation with Wright. "But he is OK, so that's the good part."
The Mets were concerned enough about Wright landing on the DL that they already had summoned Josh Satin from Triple-A Buffalo just in case. But Collins was satisfied after watching Wright take batting practice indoors yesterday morning. As for Wright, his tone before the game was much different from a day earlier as he explained the decision.
"I guess in an ideal world, if you weren't a baseball player, you'd probably splint it up for a little while and let it heal that way," Wright said. "But I don't have that luxury of time right now, so it's going to heal on its own. It might take a little extra work doing it while playing at the same time, but I'm confident that it will heal correctly on its own."