PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) - David Wright gave the Mets something to get excited about - just by taking the field Friday.
The Mets' captain made his first appearance in a big league game since sustaining a rib injury during the World Baseball Classic, going 0 for 3 and playing five innings for New York in a 7-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
``I've said all along I'd be ready,' Wright said of opening day. ``Of course, I would have liked to have gotten a few more at_bats, but I don't have that luxury right now, so I'll make the most out of what I can tomorrow and I'll be ready to go. I feel pretty good considering the circumstances.'
Wright was a late scratch from the United States' game against the Dominican Republic on march 14. He received a cortisone shot in his left side a day later. He said Friday he didn't feel any tightness or pain.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Wright returning to the lineup was important for the team.
``He's a big piece of our lineup, if not the biggest piece of our lineup,' Collins said. ``To get him out there changes the whole look of the team. It changes the look of the lineup, and we don't have to ask some guys to pick up a big load because he'll do that.'
Wright began playing in minor league games this week but was in a good rhythm before his injury, sustained after recording 10 RBIs in four games at the WBC.
He said the experience with the U.S. team is why he was able to get ready so quickly.
``Game situations helped me feel more at ease, not only hitting but fielding,' Wright said. ``I know where to go on plays, positioning and things like that, it's helped me to this point. I think for sure I had a lot of at_bats before I was hurt and I'll get a handful afterward, but I feel more comfortable now than when I first came down for spring training.'
The Mets needed something positive a day after learning ace Johan Santana will likely miss the season with a re-torn left shoulder capsule.
Santana had surgery Sept. 14, 2010, and did not make it back to the major leagues until last April 5. The 34-year-old left-hander hasn't pitched in any exhibition games during spring training because of arm weakness, and he threw his last bullpen session in early March without the team's permission. He had been throwing off flat ground.
``He's just kind of in a bit of shock. I don't think anyone was expecting this,' Wright said. ``For everyone, it's kind of shocking. It's disheartening.'
Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook kept the Mets at bay until the fourth when Ike Davis walked leading off and Marlon Byrd followed with a double. John Buck drew a one-out walk, and Ruben Tejada doubled to left field to bring in two runs.
Buck was thrown out rounding third, but Collin Cowgill, pinch hitting for Harvey, extended the Mets lead to 4-0 with a two-run homer to left field.
``I think I pitched fairly well, but they took advantage of a couple mistakes,' Westbrook said. ``I left a couple of balls over the plate, and I was not able to execute all my pitches, so in that way it wasn't my best day.'
Mets starter Matt Harvey finished his spring on a high note, giving up three hits and no runs in four innings. He walked two batters but struck out four. The right-hander pitches in Game 2 on Wednesday.
``I couldn't be happier with the spring, how it went and how my body feels going into the season and we're all looking forward to heading up north,' Harvey said. ``There were some down times, but there were some really good stuff. My curveball is right where I want it. I was able to fine-tune some pitches today, and getting back out there is something I'm definitely looking forward to Wednesday.'
NOTES: Cowgill is 20 for 63 (.317) in 25 games this spring with five homers and 10 RBIs. .Daniel Murphy, who played his second spring training game Friday, went 2 for 4 with a run scored. LaTroy Hawkins gave up his first runs of the spring in the fifth inning, allowing two runs on two hits with a walk. Mets closer Bobby Parnell struck out the side in the ninth. . Jon Jay went 2 for 2 with a double to lead the Cardinals. ... The Cardinals placed closer Jason Motte (strained right elbow) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22, and optioned pitcher Maikel Cleto and outfielder Adron Chambers to Triple-A Memphis. Non-roster C Rob Johnson, INF Greg Garcia and OF Oscar Taveras were re-assigned to minor league camp. ... The Mets made some cuts Friday: Non-roster pitcher Scott Rice beat out Robert Carson as the second left-hander in the bullpen to make his first major league roster in his 15th professional season. Omar Quintanilla was sent to Triple-A, meaning there will be no bona fide backup at shortstop. Anthony Recker beat out Landon Powell as the backup catcher, and Jeurys Familia and Greg Burke both made the team in the bullpen. A handful of non-roster invitees who had already made the team - Rice, Marlon Byrd, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison - were added to the 40-man roster. ... The lone decision to be made is whether Justin Turner (calf) lands on the DL to start the season, meaning Zach Lutz and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are still in limbo - only one would make the team if Turner is able to play.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved