PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - David Wright took another step toward a return to the Mets when he played third base Tuesday night for the Class A-Advanced St. Lucie Mets.

Even though Wright played six innings instead of the scheduled five, the Mets captain already had taken an ice bath and showered by the time the Florida State League team defeated the Fort Myers Miracle, 3-1.

Wright stayed in for the extra inning because he was due to bat second in the sixth and had had only two at-bats, a swinging strikeout and a popout to first base. He made his extra inning pay off when he lined a single to center on the second pitch of his third at-bat.

Wright appeared in only eight games for the Mets before going on the disabled list April 20, first with a strained right hamstring, then with spinal stenosis in his lower back.

As the designated hitter Monday night, Wright singled in three at-bats and drew a walk.

He said he's feeling fine and moving well.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I want to get back to where it's 100-percent reaction, and I'm not thinking about what I'm doing, so I can be in the flow of the game," Wright said. "After only six at-bats, it's tough."

Playing defense for the first time since April 14, Wright's first three innings were quiet. No balls were hit his way, and there wasn't even a bases-empty strikeout for the catcher to throw the ball to him.

In the fourth, Wright finally was tested when the Miracles' No. 5 hitter led off by dropping down a near-perfect bunt that rolled slowly toward Wright. Playing at normal depth, Wright wasn't expecting a bunt. He fielded it smoothly on the run, although his throw to first was late and off line.

"I don't know these guys, but you'd think the fifth hitter is not likely to bunt," Wright said. "It was a good play."

Wright fielded another bunt by the next batter, a much more routine sacrifice, but that was it for his defensive chances.

Mets videos

"I felt good, I felt confident, I felt comfortable," Wright said. "But you've got to get back into the speed of the game."

Wright said he doesn't know how many rehab games he will need before he can rejoin the big-league club.

"You have to play three days in a row, you have to go nine innings a couple of times," he said.

"I'm itching to get back, but I want to be productive," he said. "Once you get your legs under you and get comfortable in the box, you'll know you're ready."

The Mets have only two games remaining in an American League park -- Aug. 18-19 at Baltimore -- so Wright knows he will have to play third base if he is going to help his team in its charge toward a playoff berth.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

He said it wouldn't be worthwhile to rush back to DH in a couple of games if he "wouldn't be ready for National League baseball after that."