Wright hurt and Mets fans hold breath

David Wright looks on from the dugout during David Wright looks on from the dugout during a game against the Washington Nationals. (April 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4, ...

If spring training is a time for optimism, then starting the season 4-0 is a time for crazy optimism.

Why not dream big if you're a Mets fan? Like a $2.50 ticket to Wednesday's Johan Santana-Stephen Strasburg matchup, it doesn't cost much.

Then reality smacks you right in the face. Or in the case of David Wright, right in the pinkie.

The Mets scratched Wright from the lineup for Tuesday night's 6-2 loss to the Nationals with what was termed a jammed pinkie. Wright suffered the injury Monday when he was diving back to first base during a third-inning pickoff attempt.

It appeared from the start Tuesday night that this was not going to end well. Wright, who is batting .583, would not have agreed to come out of the lineup for just a boo-boo.

The Mets announced in the sixth inning that X-rays showed a small fracture at the middle joint of the finger. Wright, who was not immediately placed on the disabled list, had the finger splinted and will see a hand specialist Wednesday.

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The Mets said Wright "can return to baseball activity as tolerated." Surgery is not necessary, the team said. There is no timetable for Wright's return.

"I learned from last year and this spring that you can't put a timetable [on it]," a clearly dejected Wright said. "I'll wake up [Wednesday], hopefully the swelling goes down and we'll start getting it better. But for right now, it's swollen and I'm just trying to ice it and stabilize it and we'll see how it feels."

Wright said he started to feel the pain during Monday's 4-3 win over the Nationals. He was unable to grip a bat during Tuesday's batting practice.

Ronny Cedeño started in Wright's place and went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

The Mets, you might be aware, have had their share of injured players the last few seasons. If any franchise is due some luck in that area, it's the one that plays at Citi Field.

So much for that.

"I'm more concerned with feeling like it kind of breaks up the momentum that we had," Wright said. "But there's nothing you can do about it. It happens. You try to go out there and not get hurt and you just never know. I never would have thought I'd be able to manage to fracture a finger trying to dive back into first."

The Mets suffered through an injury-filled spring training, but most of the banged-up players -- including Wright -- were back by Opening Day.

Centerfielder Andres Torres reinjured his calf in the opener and went on the disabled list, but fill-in Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a game-tying, two-run homer Monday. It's that sort of contribution from unexpected sources that helps a team begin to believe in itself.

The Mets showed promising qualities in this season's first four games. With a mostly homegrown roster, they could be easy to root for. A 4-0 start had to at least open the door to thoughts of a successful season in the double wild-card era.

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None of that matters, though, if the Mets' best players don't stay on the field. Looking over at third base and seeing Cedeño instead of Wright is not exactly the stuff of big dreams. More like the opposite.

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