Mets are hurting for wins at exhibition halfway mark

Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada catches a ball during

Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada catches a ball during practice at spring training. (Feb. 27, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Whether Monday's settlement is viewed as a victory or not for the Mets, it might help to pick up a few more wins on the field before April 5, if only to experience what that feels like.

The Mets ended their unofficial first half of the Grapefruit League season at 3-11, the lowest win total in the majors.

As the Mets return to work with Tuesday night's game against the Nationals at Digital Domain Park, the standings mean zero. But their inconsistent play does reflect another rash of injuries that have forced David Wright and Ruben Tejada -- among others -- to miss significant time.

Wright, who is rehabbing from a torn abdominal muscle, made incremental progress Sunday by hitting soft-toss pitches as well as off a tee. The expectation is that he will start taking batting practice later this week, with the plan of returning to games shortly thereafter.

Just how many games Wright will need to feel ready for Opening Day is uncertain.

"The at-bats isn't an issue," he said. "I think that just as important as the at-bats is getting your body to the point where you're preparing every day, you're feeling the fatigue, you're kind of going through that preparation to get ready for a game."

Further complicating matters has been the absence of Tejada, who has missed six games because of a groin strain. Even before Tejada arrived in Florida, Terry Collins expressed frustration that he hadn't showed up early to work with second baseman Daniel Murphy.

For now, Collins will settle for getting his starters on the field together. "I'm looking for these guys to get in there and start to play the game," he said. "To get themselves ready and work on the things we really believe in."

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