For David Wright, there still will be meaningful games in September. He said as much when he rejoined the team Monday, confident that he will play again this season.

He returned from rehab in Florida only because no one is playing down there now, and he still has yet to test his strained hamstring by running the bases. He calls that "the next hurdle" and there is no specific date for when he will attempt it. So it was only natural to ask if he will have regrets that the clock simply ran out on him.

"I don't think the clock is going to run out," he said before the Mets played the Nationals, as a matter of playing out the string on another lost season. "I think I will be back at least for a larger chunk of the remainder of the games. I haven't really thought about not playing. It hasn't really crossed my mind."

Wright, who injured his leg Aug. 2, said he has felt no discomfort in practicing hitting, fielding and throwing. The next step, literally, is doing exercises that entail cutting at angles that simulate rounding bases. "They originally told me six weeks," he said, referring to his recovery, "and I'm around five weeks right now. I think I'm pretty close to that timeline, I would say."

The question is whether it is worth rushing back for another desolate final month with the Mets. It has been a while since the club has fulfilled that now famous promise of principal owner Fred Wilpon that the team would "play meaningful games in September." The answer apparently for Wright is that players play.

"David Wright is a pro and he knows that we need him and he loves to play. That's why, when he shows up every day, he's in the lineup," manager Terry Collins said.

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He pretty much echoed Nationals manager Davey Johnson saying that young All-Star Bryce Harper will be in the lineup following a hip injury even if his club is no longer in the wild-card race.

Wright and the Mets did not consider a trip to Class A Savannah for the South Atlantic League playoffs, which began Monday night. The third baseman admitted that might have been "optimistic," even for him. "Plus," he said, "they've worked really hard to get to this point. I remember what it was like in the minor leagues -- they probably want to try to win the championship and not have some guy rehabbing."

For now, Wright will stand at the plate for Mets bullpen sessions. He will appear Tuesday with Jeff Wilpon, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler at a Manhattan firehouse for an annual post-9/11 ritual. He will be vocal on the bench and in the clubhouse. What can he contribute? "My smile? I don't know," he said. "I think with how young we are, if they need somebody to run questions by or if I see something . . ."

What he gives the Mets more than anything, though, is a bat. He has every intention of doing that. That is meaningful to him. "Try to end the year on a positive note," he said. "I think that is important."