David Wright's left shoulder is not pain-free and likely won't be for the remainder of the season. He admitted as much. But he still has declared himself "healthy enough to compete."
The third baseman returned to the Mets' lineup Saturday night against the Rangers at Citi Field after missing seven games with a bruised rotator cuff in his left shoulder.
"I'm definitely much better, and that's the only thing you can judge it on," he said. "I'm going out and doing the things I'm supposed to be doing."
Wright was set to play Friday, but persistent rain before the game prevented him from being tested with infield drills and batting practice. He completed those steps Saturday afternoon, monitored by manager Terry Collins. "I wanted to see how he felt after certain movements," Collins said. "He said he was fine, no discomfort and no hesitation."
Wright, batting third, was 1-for-4 with a line-drive double to left-centerfield in the fifth inning, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He was tested at third base in the fifth, charging a slow roller by Adrian Beltre and firing to first in one motion for the out.
"It's great to have our best player back in the lineup," Daniel Murphy said. "He's a guy that sets the tone for us offensively."
Eric Campbell was 13-for-28 as Wright's replacement at third. Nevertheless, coming in, the Mets were 22nd in the majors in runs scored, and Wright's return adds thump -- potentially -- to a team that badly needs offensive help.
"I know it's been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride this year offensively . . . and me in particular having some ups and downs," said Wright, who is batting .277 with six homers and 41 RBIs. "Hopefully I can help produce and finish up strong."
Wright, 31, appeared to first injure the shoulder on June 12, jamming his left arm during a headfirst slide into second base. He continued to play but twice felt severe pain while making lunging defensive plays against the Pirates on June 26. An MRI revealed only a bruise and the Mets opted against placing him on the disabled list, believing the injury required only rest and treatment.
"The only thing I can go by right now is how I feel, and I feel like I'm able to go out there and hit and field and throw," Wright said. "That's a good feeling, considering what it felt like a week ago."
Wright said he has progressed considerably but conceded he isn't close to 100 percent. But playing through pain, he said, is "something everybody does."
"Throughout the season you have discomforts, and that's part of the challenge of going out and trying to play every day," he said.
With that in mind, Wright said he will try hard to avoid headfirst dives on the basepaths, but he insists he isn't at all concerned about diving defensively. That, he said, "is something you just do" instinctively.
Collins agreed. "I don't think you can have that if you're going to play the game the right way,'' he said. "If you dive and you jam your shoulder, you jam your shoulder. You can hurt it again . . . but that's part of playing sports."
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