David Wright and Daniel Murphy swing the bat, still hope to play in opener
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright and Daniel Murphy took swings together in batting practice Sunday, which wouldn't have been a noteworthy event had the Mets enjoyed an ordinary camp. But the Mets have dealt with an extraordinary number of ailments, including injuries to Wright and Murphy, who represent 50 percent of their projected starting infield.
Which is why Sunday's sighting represented an encouraging sign.
Both maintain hopes of taking the field on Opening Day. And though the third baseman appears to have a far more realistic chance of doing so than the second baseman, both took major steps forward in their efforts to return from their intercostal muscle strains.
"Mentally, it's somewhat of a hurdle to get over not knowing how it's going to feel when you swing," said Wright, who hit for the first time since suffering the injury at the World Baseball Classic. "And also, it's one step closer to Opening Day."
Meanwhile, Murphy went 1-for-2 with a walk while playing five innings in a minor-league contest, his first game action since suffering a setback during his first appearance March 15.
"There's definitely enough time," Murphy said of being ready for Opening Day, which is in exactly one week.
Despite the progress, manager Terry Collins said both will be monitored closely. To continue moving forward, both must report to camp Monday with no issues.
"Worst-case scenario, you miss the first six days," Collins said he told both players. "That's not bad for us. That's not too bad. We'll take that. One thing we can't have is that you miss the first six weeks. That we have issues with. That's why we'll monitor what their workload is."
Murphy's intent to play on Opening Day appears ambitious, given that he hasn't faced big-league pitching in spring training. His minor-league at-bats reminded him of that reality.
"It was like trying to hit an aspirin," Murphy said of his timing.
However, he emerged from the day feeling healthy. The biggest test came during Murphy's second at-bat, when he checked his swing and felt no pain in his side.
If his health holds up, Murphy believes he can make up for his lack of at-bats by bouncing around in minor-league games in which he can rack up as many as six or seven plate appearances a day.
"It's always a feeling," said Murphy, who has no set number of at-bats he needs before being ready for the season. "Hopefully, I just find it quicker this year."
Wright's road to Opening Day appears much smoother, given that he's already played in full games during the World Baseball Classic with Team USA. Until Sunday, he had not taken swings on the field since the WBC.
"I get to check this off the list," Wright said. "We'll hopefully progress a little more tomorrow . . . When you get onto the field, it's a little more effort, so it was a nice step today."
Wright said he's not sure when he'll play next. For the Mets, that's by design. To keep the captain from rushing back from his injury, they have not given him details of his rehab schedule.
Said Wright: "They've kind of done a nice job putting the reins on me and making me take my time and really slowing it down."