NEW YORK -- When David Wright stated his plan to return to the Mets before the end of the season, despite a seven-week hamstring injury that bothered him as recently as mid-September, the chorus was one of caution. Why risk re-injury with so little time left in a third- or fourth-place season?
Yet fueled by his competitive desire and backed by his team, Wright pressed forward, returning from the disabled list last Friday. Six days later, the Mets' worst nightmare briefly whispered across Citi Field, when an 86-mph pitch struck Wright in the helmet. The third baseman later passed a battery of concussion tests, leaving open the possibility that he will play again before the end of the season.
"I'm feeling fine," Wright said. "It's more precautionary that they didn't want me to stay in the game. I feel pretty good."
With two outs in the third inning Thursday, Brewers pitcher Johnny Hellweg threw a changeup that bore in on Wright, striking him on the left side of his helmet as he tried to duck out of the way. Wright fell to the ground, landing on his right hand. After several moments conferring with trainer Ray Ramirez, Wright walked off the field, with Justin Turner replacing him on the bases.
Coming into the game with six strikeouts, 22 walks and six hit batsmen in 26 2/3 career innings, Hellweg hit Lucas Duda with his next pitch and walked Mike Baxter on four straight before striking out Matt den Dekker to end the inning.
"That's the last guy on that team I want to hit," Hellweg said. "All I hear is good things about him; he's a good guy. You don't ever want to hit somebody in the head. It was a changeup. It was definitely mis-located. I feel awful he had to come out of the game at that point. I think it got to me a little bit just because, David Wright, that's their guy, and it was in the head and he had to come out. I think that stuck with me for the next pitch or two."
Back in the dugout, Mets trainers administered cognitive tests and compared the results with baseline data collected in Spring Training. No major discrepancies arose, indicating a lack of concussion symptoms.
"I felt like my head was all right," Wright said. "I knew all the essential things. My ears weren't ringing. I felt like I got hit in the head with a ball, but other than that, I knew the score and the situation. I didn't have any kind of memory loss or lose consciousness, so that's a good thing."
Wright's appearance Thursday night was just his fifth since spending seven weeks on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, which he injured running the bases in August. He made it clear that he considered his return before the end of the season significant, even if it would only be for a few games.
Though Wright made no guarantees, he indicated he could play again before Sunday. The third baseman was prepared to have more concussion tests Friday after arriving at Citi Field, though his greater obstacle to playing time may be the jammed right thumb he sustained while falling to the ground.
"It's just a scary situation," Mets starter Dillon Gee said. "It was a changeup -- I guess that was the good thing. If it had been a fastball, that would have been a lot scarier."
Wright's initial concern revolved around the fact that this was not his first direct hit to the head -- he sustained a concussion four years ago when Giants pitcher Matt Cain struck him in a similar spot with a 94-mph fastball. But Wright said he knew immediately that this was less serious.
"I felt a lot different this time than last time," Wright said. "I got hit, and I think I jammed my thumb, got to a knee and just wanted to collect my thoughts, make sure I was all right before I got up. By that time, the decision was already made to take me out."