PORT ST. LUCIE — David Wright walked out to the plate around 1:30 Saturday afternoon to a standing ovation at the Mets’ spring training complex. It was the first time Mets fans had seen him in uniform and striding toward the plate in a “game,” since May 27, 2016.
It was a big step in his comeback from June neck surgery.
“These fans have been behind me for so long and have seen so many different ends of the spectrum, not just from me personally, from this team, it certainly makes you feel good,” Wright said of the standing ovation he received before his first at-bat. “You get that kind of reception after missing so long, you forget about the adrenaline and the emotion that kind of comes along with playing in New York until these fans remind you.”
Wright went 0-for-2 but hit the ball solidly Saturday as the designated hitter in the Mets’ 8-6 loss to the Nationals. Wright flied out to center in his first at-bat and lined out to third in the fourth inning.
Wright is still in the process of beginning to throw, which he did behind closed doors at the Barwis training facility Saturday morning, and therefore a ways away from being able to play in the field. But Saturday Wright felt closer to being back than he has in months.
“Just like every spring, especially this one after having missing so much time, you have some butterflies at first,” Wright said. “The game certainly speeds up. It’s not hitting off a tee, it’s not hitting off a coach, it’s someone who is getting paid to get you out. It was a challenge, but I think I got a chance to see some pitches and I’m really happy with the results, which usually isn’t the case with me.”
Kevin Plawecki left Saturday’s game after a collision at the plate with a left knee injury. The Mets were calling it a contusion, but also sending him out for X-Rays. The catcher, who was expected to start the season in Triple-A, was upended by Nationals’ outfielder Rafael Bautista in the sixth inning.
WHEELER PUSHED BACK
Zack Wheeler was pushed back from his normal throw day on Saturday, but Dan Warthen said it was not health related. The right-hander, who is nearing the second anniversary of his Tommy John surgery, will throw on Sunday and be allowed to go full-throttle for the first time since he experienced elbow tenderness after his first bullpen.
“I gave him an extra day to rest because I want him to throw seven or eight balls at 100% tomorrow and I want to be there when he does it,” Warthen said. “My schedule was pretty full getting guys ready today. I want to make sure I am out there with him when he throws, so I felt it best to just wait a day.”
The Mets rotation is filled with talented young arms and unique individuals, but at least three of them have found common, albeit ugly, ground. Saturday, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard were sporting mustaches.
They declined to comment on the brotherhood of the Tom Selleck-like mustaches.