PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — David Wright on Tuesday threw for the second time since neck surgery last June, though he did it on a back field, hidden away from fans and reporters.
“We don’t want him overexposed to where . . . if he makes a bad throw, all of a sudden, it’s a big story,” manager Terry Collins said. “We want to make sure that when he starts out there throwing in front of everybody, that he’s certainly ready to let it loose.”
Wright, 34, took grounders with the rest of the team in addition to continuing his work at the plate. But until he can get his throwing up to speed, a process that may take three more weeks, he will be relegated to designated hitter duties during Grapefruit League games.
“[He] felt better, a lot looser . . . he’s making strides,” Collins said of the Mets captain, who has stopped short of making any promises about being ready for Opening Day.
Wright has played a total of only 75 games the past two seasons, limited by spinal stenosis and surgery to correct a herniated disc in his neck. But despite what appears to be a long road back to the starting lineup, the Mets insist Wright is their projected Opening Day third baseman.
Familia getting ready
Until an official ruling comes from the commissioner’s office sometime this spring, the Mets won’t know precisely how long they’ll be without closer Jeurys Familia to start the season.
But Collins said he is certain about one thing: When Familia returns from his domestic violence suspension, he’ll be ready.
“The ideal thing is to have players who don’t need managers or coaches,” Collins said. “They get themselves ready. They know what to do and how to go about it. And they make your job much easier because you know they’re going to do it.”
One day after returning to camp after a three-day absence related to baseball’s investigation, Familia threw live batting practice on the back fields. Set to play in the World Baseball Classic, the closer looked like he was in midseason form, drawing gasps from those gathered around the batting cage when slugger Yoenis Cespedes swung through one of Familia’s splitters.
“He looked great,” said Collins, who watched batting practice from centerfield, hoping to get a sense of the movement on Familia’s pitches. “He’s got to get himself ready.”