NEW YORK -- Ike Davis walked through the Mets' clubhouse with no pronounced limp, in relatively good spirits. But the news regarding his status was sour.

An MRI taken Wednesday revealed not only that the bone bruise in Davis' left ankle has not healed, but also that cartilage damage may exist within the joint. If his injury does not improve over the next three weeks, Davis will undergo season-ending surgery.

"Surgery is like an athlete's nightmare," he said. "If it's going to get me on the field again, then that's something we have to do, but obviously, we're going to get a second opinion."

Davis, who was batting .302 with seven homers in 36 games prior to the injury, originally suffered a bone bruise and ankle sprain during a May 10 collision with third baseman David Wright in Colorado. After spending a period of time in a walking boot, he attempted a return to baseball drills last month, but continued pain in the ankle forced him to cease all activity.

Wednesday's follow-up appointment at the Hospital for Special Surgery revealed no improvement. Though Davis tolerated all physical tests, an MRI exam revealed the extent of the damage.

"It's about the same, which is not a good sign," Davis said. "I haven't run, haven't done anything on my legs for six weeks now or five weeks. And there's not really any improvement, so that's disheartening."

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson compared the damage to a bone bruise in the knee, the type of injury that nearly prompted Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran to undergo microfracture surgery two winters ago. Though the Mets are not yet convinced that Davis will require an operation -- microfracture or otherwise -- they are bracing for that possibility.

"We can't accelerate the healing process," Alderson said. "We can't get him back any sooner than he's capable, and if it looks like he's going to need surgery, then we're simply going to have to look to 2012. But again, that's a little premature."

Ditching his walking boot in an attempt to encourage circulation within his ankle, Davis will once again attempt to run at some point over the next three weeks. But he must show significant improvement to avoid surgery, because the Mets now face a deadline: If Davis waits much longer to have surgery, he may not be ready for the start of Spring Training.

He will therefore spend the next three weeks performing general flexibility and strengthening exercises, riding a stationary bike, soaking in hot and cold tubs, and so on and so forth -- anything to promote circulation and healing in his ankle in an attempt to avoid surgery.

Certainly, his team could use him back. Already playing without Wright, who remains on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back and is due for his own reevaluation on Thursday, the Mets have endured a noticeable decrease in thump without Davis in the lineup. Mostly, Daniel Murphy has been playing first base and batting fourth in Davis' absence, though the Mets inserted Jason Bay back into the cleanup spot for Wednesday's game against the A's.

Such lineup shuffles and defensive alignments are issues the Mets never dreamed they would need to face for such a prolonged period of time. The night he collided with Wright, Davis expressed optimism that he would be able to play the following day. Days later, when he went on the disabled list, Davis offered confidence that he would return in short order.

"I never even thought about surgery," Davis said. "I thought it was a bruise and it was going to heal. I guess in the ankle, it doesn't heal sometimes."