PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright's road back from a strained left intercostal muscle has been slow but steady. The third baseman swung in an indoor cage for the first time on Saturday, also taking infield practice for the second straight day.
They may be baby steps, but they are steps nonetheless -- which is more than several of Wright's injured teammates can say. As long as Wright continues progressing, he should return to game action by the middle of next week, giving him just enough time to prepare for Opening Day.
"Each and every step is positive with David," manager Terry Collins said. "But once again, I'm going to be very cautious. This guy is a huge piece, and the last thing we need to do is to try to tell him he needs to rush or he needs to hurry. We'll see where he is in the middle of next week."
The Mets plan to hold Wright out of Grapefruit League action until they are sure of his readiness for April 1. Due to league rules, if Wright appears in an official spring game and then suffers a setback, the Mets will not be able to backdate a potential disabled list stay for as many days.
The same logic applies to second baseman Daniel Murphy, who hopes to return to Minor League action on Sunday. Murphy, who has been battling a strained right intercostal muscle since mid-February, played defense in a Minor League contest last weekend but has not appeared in a live game since.
Francisco throws first spring BP
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Former closer Frank Francisco threw live batting practice on Saturday for the first time this spring, putting him on track to accelerate his throwing program. But Francisco, who told reporters he felt "sore" after the outing, remains an extreme longshot to break camp with the Mets next weekend.
Battling inflammation in his surgically repaired right elbow, Francisco first stepped on a mound two weekends ago. He has made steady progress since then -- increasing his workload and effort.
The Mets expect Francisco to return to game action sometime this week, perhaps in a Minor League environment. But even if Francisco comes out of that unscathed, there are not enough days left in camp for him to make a serious run at the Opening Day roster.
Until Francisco arrives in New York, Bobby Parnell will serve as closer. The Mets have made it clear that even if Francisco comes back healthy early in April, Parnell could still hang onto the job.