PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Only with the Mets does a feel-good day still begin with a visit to the doctor's office.
Jerry Manuel was looking forward to seeing his regular lineup after benching his starters for the first two games of spring training. But the manager's plan was foiled early Thursday when Jose Reyes had to be scratched because of a follow-up exam that required him to skip breakfast and give a blood sample.
Despite the early red flag, Reyes was medically cleared in the afternoon, and he played catch and took indoor batting practice as his teammates mopped up Tradition Field with the Cardinals in a 17-11 victory.
"Everything's normal," Reyes said as headed for the clubhouse door. When asked if he feels relieved, he added, "No doubt. It's good news."
As soon as Reyes was given the green light, the Mets were able to exhale and put him in the lineup for today's game against the Marlins at Tradition Field - batting third, of course. But they hardly needed a spark Thursday from a batting order that featured David Wright in his customary third spot and the debut of $66-million leftfielder Jason Bay.
Wright's lack of power last season is a concern he took into spring training. But in his very first at-bat, Wright crushed a two-run homer off Evan MacLane.
With Luis Castillo on second, Wright insisted he was trying to move him over. But he squared up the pitch and lifted it into the jet stream blowing out to rightfield. It cleared the wall easily.
Not a bad start for Wright, who had only 10 homers last year and has been answering questions about it since September. Still, he tried to downplay going deep in his first at-bat.
"Let's not get crazy," he said.
But from a confidence standpoint, the home run had to help, and Manuel said it was no coincidence based on what he has noticed in Wright since he arrived in camp. Much has been made of Wright's stronger physique, and hitting coach Howard Johnson worked with him extensively during the offseason. So maybe the extra effort is paying off.
"I thought today he had some of the better swings I've seen him have in a long time," Manuel said. "In all of his at-bats, he looked like he was a threat to hit the ball hard somewhere."
Yet Wright's drive was dwarfed by Ike Davis' grand slam in the six-run eighth. Manuel ranks the 22-year-old first baseman behind Daniel Murphy and Mike Jacobs on the depth chart. But as much as Manuel tries to keep him out of the Opening Day conversation, Davis keeps forcing his way into the discussion.
"I would say anything is in the realm of possibility," Manuel said. "Some things will have to go his way. There would have to be significant injuries or a trade or something like that.
"As we sit here today, Murphy and Jacobs - those are the guys. But when you see that kind of power, you got to visit it at some point. That's game-changing type of stuff, to see someone hit a ball that far. He's going to push some people."
With all of the fireworks around him, Bay (0-for-2) stayed under the radar. "The first game of spring training is a little bit different with another team," he said, "but it's business as usual."