Stiff neck puts Wright on bench for opener
Mets third baseman pinch-hits, strikes out in extra innings vs. Miami
MIAMI -- When asked about David Wright's toughness, Mets manager Terry Collins often notes that his third baseman played "with a broken back" in 2011. But it took 13 innings for Wright to attempt to play through this.
Wright was out of Monday's starting lineup against the Marlins with what Collins called "a real stiff neck," which first began afflicting him during Sunday's game. Though Wright downplayed the severity of his injury, he admitted before the game that he was in no shape to take the field at Marlins Ballpark.
"I like to try to play through things, but this is just something where it would be dumb to go out there," Wright said. "I would be no good to the team today."
Still, as the Mets descended into extra innings against the Marlins, Wright changed his tune, grabbing a bat for a pinch-hit appearance in the 13th. He struck out looking against reliever Jon Rauch, then took his seat back on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Though ultimately unsuccessful, Wright's pinch-hit appearance strongly indicated that he could be ready to rejoin the starting lineup as soon as Tuesday -- his stated goal prior to Monday's game.
"I'm very unconcerned about it," Wright said. "It's not something I'm worried about. It stinks that I can't play. That's the biggest thing. The biggest thing for me is I just want it to be a one-day thing and not try to fight through it, and all of the sudden, do something a little more serious."
With Wright out of the lineup, Justin Turner started at third base and batted second, reaching base in four of his first six plate appearances. Second baseman Daniel Murphy slid down to third in the lineup to replace Wright -- a tall task considering his .309 average, two home runs, three triples and six stolen bases over his first 23 games.
"Somebody else has got to pick it up," Collins said. "I mean, he's our star. You take your star out of the lineup, you change the lineup pretty much. What we've got to do is jump on the back of somebody else, and hopefully they carry us for a while until he gets back."
Neither Wright nor Collins could pinpoint a particular event that triggered his neck pain, only that the injury first grabbed Wright's attention early in Sunday's game. He played the rest of the game through what he called neck "spasms," which worsened as the game progressed.
When Wright woke up Monday in Miami, the pain was even worse, prompting Collins to remove him from the lineup. Wright received heat treatment Monday afternoon, and expected to meet with a local doctor later in the day. No MRI or X-ray was scheduled, and Wright said he does not believe the injury is at all related to the stress fracture -- the "broken back" -- that forced him to miss two months in 2011.
"He wanted to try to get ready today and I said, 'It doesn't make any sense,'" Collins said. "If you have those kinds of muscle spasms, you can loosen them up and if you don't be careful they can come right back. So I just wanted to give him the day."