David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
David Wright estimated two weeks for his strained right hamstring. Sandy Alderson, leaning on past experience, figured on three.
Either way, the Mets felt as if they dodged a bullet Wednesday when Wright's injury was diagnosed to be on the mild side, more like an early inconvenience than one that could have a major impact on their season. "The team as a whole will respond well to this," Alderson said.
A few hours later, the Mets did. Wright's absence was barely noticed as Travis d'Arnaud -- elevated to the No. 2 spot -- and Lucas Duda both homered in a 6-1 win that completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies.
Losing Wright shouldn't be so hard for the short term, and the GM went the "plug-and-play" route in calling up Eric Campbell from Triple-A Vegas, where the versatile utility man was raking at a .550 clip in the hitter-friendly PCL. By sticking Campbell at third base, Terry Collins wouldn't have to disrupt the rest of his infield, maintaining a sense of normalcy with Wright on the shelf. "These guys think they're good enough to do this," Collins said. "With or without David Wright."
And they're getting pretty good at shaking off adversity. Before the season began, the Mets' 2015 plans were sidetracked by losing Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin to Tommy John surgery. Last Saturday, their closer, Jenrry Mejia, was suspended 80 games for a PED violation.
Those are three big pieces, and still the Mets didn't skip a beat. While Alderson had ready in-house replacements for Wheeler and Mejia, he made two spring-training trades for a pair of lefthanded relievers. Even picked up $2.4 million in salary for Jerry Blevins, who has been worth every nickel so far.
In those cases, the Mets were nimble enough, with sufficient depth, to make the necessary adjustments. But Wright, as the team's best everyday player, is a greater concern, which is why it was so unsettling to see him walk off the field Tuesday. The Mets spent the winter fixating about his recovery from a shoulder condition. The year before that, the same hamstring limited him to 112 games.
Fortunately, Wright was smart enough to bow out Tuesday before causing any serious damage -- to himself and the team.At age 32, with the Mets on the verge of what many believe to be a breakthrough year, maybe Wright is thinking more big picture. Or just realizing he's not as indestructible as he used to be. "I'd like to think I take good care of myself," Wright said. "I hydrate. I work out. I stretch. I do everything I can to try to prevent these types of things and somehow this happens. It hurts. You get angry. You get frustrated."
"These last couple years it seems like little things like this have prohibited me from going out there and playing every day. And that's not a good feeling."Wright is in the third season of his eight-year, $138-million contract and his $20-million salary represents one-fifth of the team's entire payroll. But the Mets no longer rely on Wright alone to carry the weight of the franchise. They have Matt Harvey as the charismatic ace of a promising rotation to go with a lineup that is gaining confidence.
On Wednesday, d'Arnaud went 2-for-4 and his first homer snapped a tie at 1 in the third inning. Duda also had an RBI-double to go with his 400-foot blast. Campbell chipped in with a single and run scored.
"They basically just say it's bad luck," Wright said. "Sometimes it's just one wrong step or you land the wrong way or you extend an inch too far and something happens."
This time, the Mets seem prepared for it.