NEW YORK -- Still determined to return to the Mets before the end of this season, third baseman David Wright could realize that goal as soon as Tuesday.
Manager Terry Collins said he will meet with Wright and his training staff prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Giants, to "decide where we're at." Though Wright cautioned that a Tuesday return might be "optimistic," he added that "I like to be optimistic."
"It's kind of a day-by-day type thing, and I think that there's still some more I need to accomplish before I play in a game," Wright said. "It's difficult for me to say, because I'd like to play. I think we, as players and coaches, tend to want to get on the field sooner than probably the medical staff and the doctors would like."
Continuing what has now been a six-week rehab from a strained right hamstring, Wright took live batting practice Saturday against bullpen coach Ricky Bones. He also progressed with baserunning drills, though admittedly at less than 100 percent.
For Wright, that is a significant part of the problem: try as they might, the Mets cannot simulate the adrenaline and intensity of Major League game conditions. So they will not know for sure how Wright will respond until he goes out and plays in a game.
"So the issue is, is he going to get hurt again?" Collins said. "So what do we do next spring? Do we not play him all spring, for fear going into the season that he might get hurt in a Spring Training game, that he might have an intercostal strain like he did this spring? Or reinjure the hamstring, a la Jose Reyes at times? This is a sport. This is a sport where people get hurt. You can't police it. You've got to do the best you can to get them in shape, and then let them go play."
With that in mind, Collins continued, Wright might as well play sooner rather than later. But while the third baseman echoed his manager's sentiment to some extent, he also cautioned that he would like to progress more in his rehab before appearing in a game.
What's clear is that barring further injury, Wright will return this season -- if not Tuesday, then almost certainly some point later next week.
"I think it's important on a number of different levels," Wright said of returning. "I play baseball for a living, so I need to play when I'm capable of playing. I've had that mindset my whole career, and that doesn't change whether you're in first place, last place. If I'm healthy enough to play, I want to play.
"It's important for the team, because we're trying to finish as strong as we can, even though we're in the situation that we are. And then for the fan base it's important, because people spend a lot of money for these tickets, and I want to go out there and try to put on a good show for them."