PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A day earlier, David Wright stood with his arms crossed, defiant about the left rib-cage stiffness that had prompted manager Terry Collins to scratch him from Saturday afternoon's intrasquad game.

But after seeing Scott Hairston aggravate his left oblique muscle, an injury that cost him the final five weeks of last season, Wright raised no objections Sunday morning when Collins pulled him aside and said he will sit out the Mets' first two Grapefruit League games. That's the best-case scenario, anyway.

With the Mets scheduled to face the Marlins in Jupiter on Wednesday, Wright might not return to the starting lineup until Thursday. But given Hairston's extended absence -- he'll get a cortisone shot Monday -- and Ike Davis' bout of Valley Fever, Wright understands this is no time to take chances.

"I think it's kind of the perfect storm as far as what happened to Scotty and in general, I think it's the correct decision, no question," Wright said. "I think that sometimes I can be hard-headed and stubborn. The medical staff, they might take it slow -- probably too slow for my liking -- but at the end, it's usually pretty good for you.

"I've tried to battle them as much as I could these last couple days. But they made it very clear and Terry made it very clear that they're going to be the ones running the show."

General manager Sandy Alderson said Wright will not return until he is "asymptomatic," and the third baseman still could feel the discomfort Sunday. With the Mets' 40-percent cut to the payroll this year, depth remains an issue, and Collins knows that losing Wright for a prolonged period would be fatal. Wright missed nine weeks last season because of a stress fracture in his lower back.

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"There's no need to rush; that's what I told David," Collins said. "As bad as he wants to play -- and I don't know if I've been around guys that are as big a gamer as he is -- we're not being very smart if we run him out there and something happens."

In Collins' timetable, as soon as Wright tells him he's ready to go, the manager will give him an extra day on top of that. With the rib-cage area, and oblique muscles in general, it is always best to proceed with extreme caution.

Wright has been participating in drills but cut back on live batting practice, so he'll gradually work his way into shape again before returning to the lineup.

"I think if this was Opening Day, I'd be playing -- 100 percent," Wright said. "But I think in light of Scotty, I think it opened up my eyes. You hate to see a guy go down, but it would be a lot worse if two guys go down. I think I can play, but it was taken out of my hands."

For Collins, sitting Wright was a no-brainer. When asked how much Hairston's injury factored into his decision, the manager replied, "A lot." He couldn't imagine the same thing happening to Wright.

"I know one thing," Collins said. "We're very aware that, on our club right now, we've got to keep our starters in the lineup, so we're concerned about it, no doubt. We've got to be aware of what's going on, and that's why we didn't force the issue here. They aren't minor injuries, but we know they can heal if given rest."