David Wright high-fives United States teammates during player introductions before the start of a second-round World Baseball Classic game against Puerto Rico on March 12 in Miami.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — David Wright wanted to make it clear that playing in the World Baseball Classic had nothing to do with the rib injury that could cause him to miss opening day for the Mets.
“You can get hurt in spring training. You can get hurt before spring training,” Wright said Sunday. “Playing baseball, there are some risks that comes along with that, whether it’s in Port St. Lucie, Arizona or Miami. There’s risk,” Wright said. “The torquing, twisting and turning — I mean, it’s just part of the game and it happens. It’s not because of the tournament.”
Mets manager Terry Collins has expressed concern that Wright will not be ready for opening day. Wright said he is unsure of whether or not he will be able to play in the April 1 opener against San Diego at Citi Field.
“That’s looking to predict the future. I can’t do that and I won’t do that because it’s the first day I’ve been back in camp. I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow or how I’ll feel the next day,” Wright said. “One thing I don’t want to do is do something and come back sooner than I should.”
“I think opening day is possible. It’s just how quickly my body responds to these treatments and how quickly I can get pain-free in that rib cage area. It’s a combination of rest and different treatments.”
Wright, who signed a $138 million, eight-year contract in December, strained an intercostal muscle in his ribcage while working out in Arizona for the WBC, but the nagging injury didn’t originally slow him down.
In four WBC games, Wright went 7-for-16 (.438) with a pair of doubles and a grand slam. He drove in 10 runs and led the way as the U.S. advanced to the second round.
Wright assumed the role of the team’s leader and was dubbed Captain America by his teammates.
In Phoenix, he hit a grand slam to break a 2-2 tie and beat Italy. At Marlins Park in Miami, his three-run double gave his team breathing room in a 7-1 victory over Puerto Rico, but that was his last appearance. He was scratched from the next two games, losses that eliminated the U.S.
The six-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner said the setback wouldn’t prevent him from considering playing in future exhibitions. Last year he started spring training with an abdominal injury, which prevented him from even beginning activities.
That’s not the case now with the rib cage injury, for which he received a cortisone shot during his trip to New York over the weekend, and Wright said it would be much easier to get ready for the season this year than it was last year.
“I’ve had plenty of at-bats, had plenty of games, plenty of nine-inning games the last couple of weeks. I’m not worried about at-bats and game situations,” he said. “I’m more worried about knocking out this (injury) and keeping it knocked out so it doesn’t pop back up.”
Wright added that he didn’t call the Mets right away when the injury arose because he didn’t believe it was something major and that he knows how his body reacts to pain.
“I always play through whatever I can, whether it’s WBC, spring training or regular season. I play through whatever I can tolerate playing through. I could tolerate playing through it and was fine with it,” he said. “Once it reached a point that it prohibited me from coming back and producing with the Mets, that’s when it was time for me to make that decision.”
Johan Santana, Daniel Murphy, Frank Francisco and Kirk Nieuwenhuis have all missed time due to injury for New York, too.
In Saturday’s home game against Miami, the Mets watched Justin Turner, a potential backup for Wright, injure his ankle while fielding a grounder at third base.
“I don’t think we have any more injuries than anybody else. If you look over at other teams, this is the time of year when there are a lot of guys in the training room. It’s not like guys are having setbacks,” Wright said.
“I felt like I was prepared for the tournament. Unfortunately, things like that happen, but it has nothing to do with the tournament itself and everything to do with bad luck.”
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