On a day when the Mets placed pitcher Steven Matz on the disabled list for the remainder of the season and announced before their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks that Michael Conforto had been scratched from the lineup with a sore right thumb, there was also a modicum of positive news to emerge from Citi Field.
About 1,200 miles south, in Port Charlotte, Fla., David Wright, who last played for the Mets on May 27, 2016, began a rehab assignment with Class A St. Lucie, batting third as the designated hitter in a lineup that included Tim Tebow.
It was Port St. Lucie where Wright arrived for spring training in February looking to reclaim a career hampered by back and neck injuries that had caused him to miss 249 regular-season games during the previous two years.
But just as Wright got going then, he injured his shoulder. Since spring training, he had not played in a game since until Tuesday, when he went 0 for 4, with two strikeouts.
On Aug. 2, the Mets’ assistant general manager, John Ricco, told reporters that Wright had begun baseball activities. A few days ago, Wright asked the team if he could get in some swings as a designated hitter. He has also begun throwing and fielding ground balls. Whether he is capable of playing in the field during a game remains a major question.
For now, Manager Terry Collins was elated that Wright had started on his long road back to Queens.
“This is a huge step going forward,” Collins said before the Mets’ 7-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. “I’m anxious to hear how he feels tomorrow.”
Collins said there were plans to eventually move Wright along to third base during his rehab, but he did not know when that might occur. Collins also suggested that if Wright were able to join the Mets in September, it could be solely as a pinch-hitter.
Given Wright’s recent medical history, there is no certainty that he will rejoin the team this year. Wright made his Mets debut in 2004, at 21, and his 1,777 hits are a team record.
Conforto’s absence from the lineup because of the lingering soreness in his thumb should not be as prolonged as Wright’s has been.
After the loss to the Diamondbacks on Monday, Conforto told staff members about the pain he had felt during some swings. It had been nagging him for a few days. After icing the thumb Monday night and before the game on Tuesday, Conforto saw a doctor, who examined X-rays and said there appeared to be no damage.
“The doctor said everything looks O.K.,” Conforto said. “It’s just overuse, an inflammation-type thing.”
Conforto said he expected to play on Wednesday, as additional reinforcements make progress toward their long-awaited returns.
Matt Harvey, who has been on the disabled list since June 15 with a right shoulder stress injury, threw 54 pitches in three innings Monday night for Class AA Binghamton. Collins said the team was projecting early September as when they expected Harvey to be back on the mound for the Mets.
“I’d like to get him to 80, 85, then I think he’s ready,” Collins said, referring to the number of pitches.
Noah Syndergaard, who was placed on the D.L. on May 1 with a right latissimus tear, will throw batting practice on Wednesday. And Jeurys Familia, who has also been on the D.L. since May, pitched one inning for Class A Brooklyn as he continued his rehab assignment.
Collins seemed most enthusiastic about Wright’s news, given the recent trades of several respected clubhouse veterans and the Mets’ many injuries, with Matz joining their ranks on Monday, when he said he would have season-ending surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his left elbow.
Matz’s replacement Tuesday, Tommy Milone, was shellacked over four and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs, five of them earned.
If anything, Wright could provide a needed morale boost in a season gone awry after the lofty expectations of the spring, when he thought he could contribute to a third straight postseason appearance for the team.
“I’m just excited to think that this guy’s back on the field, and he’s possibly going to put this uniform on again and step in that batter’s box at Citi Field,” Collins said. “That’s a pretty cool thought.”
He later added, “We can use him here, for sure.”