Throughout what has morphed into a career-altering ordeal, David Wright has maintained his optimism about returning to the Mets' starting lineup sometime this season.

The Mets hold out hope, as well.

But time may be running out for the team captain, who has yet to be cleared for baseball activities, according to general manager Sandy Alderson.

Alderson said on Tuesday Wright has seen "no change" in his status as he makes painfully slow progress in his rehab following a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, the underlying back condition that has limited him to only eight games this season. The back condition is the underlying cause of the hamstring injury.

Getting cleared for baseball activities remains the most critical immediate hurdle for Wright. Once he's healthy enough to begin baseball work, he may need three weeks to a month to work himself into game-ready shape.

That time also would include a minor-league rehab assignment, a crucial need since the third baseman hasn't played since April 14.

Increasingly, Wright's window for a return is closing.

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Once the Mets come out of the All-Star break Friday, only two weeks will remain until the nonwaiver trade deadline, the first major checkpoint in the second half of the season.

From there, any setback from Wright could jeopardize his chances of making it back before the season runs down.

Manager Terry Collins expressed optimism as recently as Sunday about Wright taking a step forward. He relayed a conversation between the two, in which he said Wright was "on the upswing" and had done activities "related" to baseball work.

Still, Wright remains in a virtual standstill until he can clear a battery of physical tests, which would allow doctors to clear him for a return to field work.

Wright remains in Los Angeles, working with a medical team headed by renowned specialist Dr. Robert Watkins.

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Wright had been getting weekly Monday checkups with Watkins, though Alderson said the doctors' schedule now "fluctuates."