Wright sidelined with fractured right pinkie
Mets third baseman injured finger avoiding pickoff at first base
NEW YORK -- David Wright walked out of the clubhouse Tuesday sporting a sour mood and a bulky bandage on his right pinkie, which he fractured during Monday's game against the Nationals. He will replace that with a custom-built splint during Wednesday's scheduled trip to a hand specialist.
Wright has suffered a small fracture in the middle joint of his fifth finger, which could land him on the disabled list for the second time in two years. The Mets will not have any clearer picture of the injury until Wright's re-evaluation, announcing Tuesday only that their third baseman will avoid surgery and "can return to baseball activity as tolerated."
"It's always frustrating to miss time," Wright said. "I feel like it kind of breaks up the momentum that we had. But there's nothing you can do about it. It happens."
After singling in the third inning Monday, Wright led off first base with the intention of stealing second. But Nationals starter Edwin Jackson surprised him with a quick pickoff throw, prompting Wright to slide too aggressively back into first base and jam his pinkie on the bag.
Though he stayed in the game, Wright was ineffective in his next at-bat, striking out swinging on five consecutive Jackson fastballs. Two innings later, the Nationals intentionally walked Wright in his final plate appearance.
"I never would have thought I'd manage to fracture a finger trying to dive back into first," Wright said.
Postgame treatment did nothing to prevent his pinkie from swelling overnight. When Wright arrived at the ballpark Tuesday, the training staff attempted to tape his thumb, cushion it and even pad the handle of his bat. But a brief test run in Citi Field's indoor batting cage resigned Wright to the fact that he could not play with any level of effectiveness.
"It's not minimal," Wright said. "If it was minimal, I'd like to think I'd be playing. Obviously, it's something that's irritating enough that I don't think I can go out there and help the team."
In Wright's absence, Daniel Murphy slid down to third in the order and Ronny Cedeno, replacing Wright at third base, hit second in the 6-2 loss to the Nationals. The Mets were already trotting out a starting lineup Tuesday without regular first baseman Ike Davis and catcher Josh Thole, who were receiving routine off-days against Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler. Platoon center fielder Scott Hairston was also in the lineup against Detwiler.
Should Wright miss any significant time, manager Terry Collins said that he would consider sliding Murphy over to his natural position at third base, which would hint at a callup for middle infielder Jordany Valdespin. Triple-A Buffalo first baseman Josh Satin and third baseman Zach Lutz would also be possibilities to replace Wright on the roster.
For now, however, the Mets are holding out hope that Wright can play as soon as Friday in Philadelphia. Much will depend on the opinion he receives Wednesday the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, where a hand specialist will examine Wright's finger and mold his splint.
"Worst case right now is that he's going to miss a little bit of time," Collins said. "But the best-case scenario is that he takes [Wednesday] and he's ready to go on Friday once he gets the swelling down."
Wright's injury is just the latest in a string of health issues for the third baseman dating back to last April, when he began playing through what turned out to be a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright later missed more than two months with that injury, then three weeks this spring with a strained left abdominal muscle.
Another long absence may be unavoidable for Wright, who was batting .583 with a home run, four walks and four RBIs over his first four games, leading the team in on-base and slugging percentage. Thanks in large part to Wright's offense from the third spot in the lineup, the Mets won each of those games in their best start to a season since 2007.
Tuesday in their first game without him, their Nos. 3-5 hitters went 1-for-12 and stranded a combined 11 men on base.
Thus, the urgency.
"I learned from last year and this spring that you can't put a timetable on it," Wright said. "I'll wake up tomorrow and hopefully the swelling goes down and it starts getting better."