PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Minor-leaguers in Mets uniforms littered the back fields Monday to participate in scrimmages. They barely resembled actual games, with a member of the coaching staff calling balls and strikes from behind the mound.
But for Mets captain David Wright, this was his reintroduction to baseball, his first taste of game action. Or at least something close to it.
“You don’t know what to expect your first time taking at-bats as far as timing and stuff,” said Wright, who went 1-for-5 in 2 1⁄2 innings.
Wright did not play the field; that will come later in what has been a spring training spent easing back into action. For now, he hopes to find his timing in hopes of ultimately playing in the Grapefruit League.
“This is exactly what we discussed before camp even started,” said Wright, who still is unclear about when he will play in a game.
Glacial progress was to be expected. The back condition spinal stenosis brings a certain degree of uncertainty, a reality that Wright and the Mets must grapple with this season.
Manager Terry Collins said Monday in Lakeland that Wright will face minor-leaguers Tuesday and Thursday before potentially entering Grapefruit League games.
In the past, Wright defied his own good judgment and pressed through injuries. Once he even soldiered on despite a sore back that was discovered to be fractured. But spinal stenosis has forced a change in mindset.
The condition leaves Wright susceptible to inflammation, which could cause discomfort that could sideline him for several days or more. He no longer can push the envelope. He must ease into things.
“Because of the schedule, because of trying to ease into game action, this is the best option,” Wright said. “And I feel like I got a lot out of it.”
Wright, 33, was limited to 38 games in 2015, when he hit .289 with five homers and 17 RBIs. He played every inning during the Mets’ postseason run, hitting .185 with a homer and seven RBIs in 14 games.
As a precaution, doctors advised him to take a full month off after the World Series. He usually begins hitting in December and starts baseball activities in January. But this offseason, Wright pushed back baseball activities to the first week of February.
Throughout his career, Wright has been known to frequent the batting cage, taking comfort in repetition. But in another concession to his back, he has looked to curtail some of that side work this year.
As camp began, general manager Sandy Alderson mentioned 130 games as a reasonable target for Wright. But since then, the Mets have backed off that declaration. Wright and Collins have been careful to avoid attaching any firm figures for what to expect this season.
Wright also shied away from establishing a number of at-bats he wants before the start of the season. As he’s noted several times recently, he has seen no direct relationship between his number of spring training at-bats and how he starts the season at the plate.
“I don’t know if there’s a number in my mind,” Wright said. “I’d like to play somewhat regularly before the season starts. I don’t want my first real regular action to be in Vegas or in Kansas City. I’d like to build it up before then.”