NEW YORK -- David Wright will never know if resting Tuesday when he wanted to play ultimately saved him from further damage to his back. All Wright and the Mets know is that he felt well enough Wednesday to return to the starting lineup after only a one-day absence.
Wright finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the Mets' 7-1 loss to the Nationals to fall deeper into a 2-for-24 funk with 14 whiffs in his last 27 plate appearances.
"The back thing is just something that I'm going to have to be used to, because it's not changing," Wright said. "But I feel like I can play at a much higher level than I'm playing right now."
For now, a healthy Wright is what the Mets stress is most important. Earlier in the day, after putting Wright back on his lineup card, manager Terry Collins rejected the notion that he and the captain squabbled over his late scratch one day earlier against the Nationals.
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"My relationship with David Wright is the best I've ever had with any player," Collins said. "So believe me, no problems. … There was no argument. There was no tiff. My star player wanted to play, and he was hurting. The discussion was, 'I know you want to play. I know the situation -- big game, big series, the captain, I get it. But I have a responsibility to David Wright, to the other 24 guys in the clubhouse and myself. I said, 'I just can't let you play.'"
If nothing else, the episode served to shed some light on how the Mets are treating Wright in his first full season since being diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Earlier this year, Collins said, the Mets tried to use Wright on four consecutive days, but found that his back struggled to tolerate the workload. So the Mets are currently proceeding with a "three and one" system, meaning roughly three appearances in the lineup for every four-game stretch. Should Wright falter as the season progresses, Collins said, that could change to "two and one" or even "three and two."
None of this is what Wright wants. But at age 33, with a career-threatening condition not going anywhere anytime soon, the third baseman is beginning to understand when he must acquiesce.
"He is extremely proud," Collins said. "He wants to play. He knows who he is and what he does for this organization, and he wants to be on the field. He thinks that's the way for him to lead. And I understand that. I totally get that. But I will tell you, when you sit and talk to him, you'll sense the frustration."