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Mets target All-Star break for Wright's return

NEW YORK -- Third baseman David Wright could return to the Mets as soon as the All-Star break, general manager Sandy Alderson said Monday at a visit to the Brooklyn VA hospital.

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Wright, 32, has spent the past three weeks in California working with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins and a team of physical therapists. The Mets shut Wright down in mid-May after he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. Since that time, there has been no concrete timetable regarding his return to baseball activities or, ultimately, to New York.

Alderson put a vague timetable on Wright's return for the first time Monday, telling reporters that, "Realistically, I'm looking at probably the All-Star break as a realistic possibility." Later in the day at Citi Field, Alderson clarified that he hopes Wright can resume baseball activities by the end of June.

"Nothing has changed," Alderson said. "I think we always expected that he would be doing his rehab work through the end of the month. If he's cleared by the end of the month, then I think two or three weeks into July is realistic. Am I predicting that? No, I'm not predicting it. But I do think it's realistic. Is there anything short of that that would be realistic? Probably not."

The All-Star Game is scheduled for July 14 in Cincinnati, 29 days from now. To hit that goal, Wright would need to begin baseball activities at least by early July, given his almost certain need for a week-plus Minor League rehab assignment. Wright has not appeared in a big league game since April 14, when he strained his right hamstring on a stolen-base attempt, and has not performed baseball activities of any kind in the last three and a half weeks.

During a visit to his teammates two weeks ago in San Diego, Wright said that "from the moment that I was diagnosed with this, there's never been a question in mind that not only am I going to come back, but I'm going to come back sooner rather than later." The Mets' captain noted at the time that Dr. Watkins gives him rehabilitation assignments on a weekly basis, without offering firm timetables for his progression.

In the third season of an eight-year, $138-million contract, Wright was batting .333 with one home run in eight games prior to his injury. The Mets have struggled to find third-base production in his absence, shuffling among Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell and Danny Muno.

Over 12 big league seasons, all with the Mets, Wright is a .298 hitter with 231 home runs, 193 stolen bases and seven All-Star appearances, the most recent of them coming in 2013.

"If it was up to David, he'd be back next Tuesday," Mets manager Terry Collins said when asked about Alderson's All-Star break approximation. "I hope that's accurate. I really do. I hope that's an accurate estimation. We'll just have to wait and see."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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