PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Designated hitter isn't exactly the position David Wright has in mind. But to the delight of Mets fans at the Grapefruit League home opener vs. Washington on Saturday, Wright made his first appearance even if it was only at the plate.

He isn't ready to take the field, still working diligently on strengthening his right arm for those accurate dealings across the diamond.

"It was a good first step," Wright said. "I didn't get my first at-bat last year until halfway through spring. So to be able to step right in there with a lot of the regular guys, it was nice."

Conforto stays hot, but Nats' HRs tag Mets

Admittedly there were butterflies, and the speed of the game was a challenge -- hitting against live pitching rather than taking BP.

"It's not hitting off a tee, it's not hitting off a coach, it's someone out there getting paid to get you out," said Wright, who flied out and grounded out in two at-bats. "It was a challenge, but I got a chance to see some pitches. I'm really happy with the results, which usually isn't the case early in the spring for me."

Video: WSH@NYM: Mets fans give Wright a loving ovation

Wright said he feels further along mechanically speaking this spring than last.

"I have a little better base going into spring than I did last year," he said. "Last year there were a lot of question marks, and there are still some question marks coming into this spring personally, but at least my neck feels good and my back is what it is.

"But I feel like I have a handle on it day in and day out. Now it's just a matter of trying to catch up defensively."

And that's the big question. Getting his throwing into big league shape will take time.

"It's such the beginning that it's almost like relearning how to throw," Wright said. "It's a lot of mechanical stuff. It's a lot of just drills that I haven't done since I was a kid, just with mechanics and trying to get my arm in the right slot.

"Because of some of the effects of the surgery, I think it's just taken a little longer than expected because of really having to almost reteach your body how to throw. It's challenging, that's for certain."

For now, everything is simplified, as Wright lets the process work. Playing third base remains the ultimate goal.

"You've got to be able to contribute on both sides of the ball," Wright said. "This is a nice first step for me, but there's plenty more hurdles and plenty more steps to take before I really fulfill and have that satisfaction of coming out and being able to actually take the field and play in a real game."