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LAKELAND, Fla. -- David Wright had his first at-bats in two months Friday night, and after hitting a double and scoring in the first inning, the New York Mets third baseman was pleased with his progress in his first rehab game with the Florida State League's St. Lucie Mets.
"It felt good. It was obviously good to get back out there," said Wright, who walked in the third inning and struck out swinging in the fifth at Joker Marchant Stadium. "A little rusty, and obviously I need a few more at-bats, but overall, I'm excited about how the first game went. So far, so good."
Wright, out since May 15 with a stress fracture in his back, seemed to be testing himself from the start against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He played five innings, as scheduled, and said he'll ramp up to seven Saturday, then try for full games back in St. Lucie next week, if all goes well.
Wright's first at-bat was a promising one -- he took four pitches from left-hander Drew Smyly, a Detroit Tigers second-round pick in 2010 out of Arkansas. He pulled the next pitch foul, took a ball outside for a full count and then ripped a double to the wall in left-center field.
The 28-year-old tested his legs two batters later, scoring from second on Jefry Marte's single to left field and sliding into home, even after the pitcher had cut off the throw from left.
"From the first inning on, I knew at least that I could relax mentally," Wright said. "I basically did everything that would have tested it right out of the box. ... It put my mind at ease early. It was good to go from there."
Up again in the third, Wright fell behind 1-2, fouling a ball into the third-base dugout and missing on strike two. He took the next three pitches to walk but didn't advance beyond first. He again went to a full count in his final at-bat in the fifth, but Smyly struck him out swinging.
Wright did not field a ball in five innings at third base -- he made a diving stab at a tough ground ball that got past him to his left, which gave the Flying Tigers the go-ahead run in an eventual 2-1 victory.
Wright said the biggest hurdles to clear Friday were more mental than physical.
"Just being tentative," he said. "It felt good. It was good to play the game again, good to be around a team, good to be around the guys. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully we can build on this. Today went about as good as I could have hoped for it to go."
Friday's game started after a 93-minute delay to avoid thunderstorms in the area, and the rough weather made for a modest crowd of 515, presumably not counting a few dozen dogs on hand for a Bark in the Park promotion.
Wright spent the 2003 season with St. Lucie, hitting .270 the year before he broke out as a star, moving up from Double-A to Triple-A to the majors in July 2004. Friday was his first minor league game since that promotion.
Wright hadn't played in exactly two months, and he has spent the past two weeks training in St. Lucie in preparation for Friday's return. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Mets on July 22 as they open a three-game series against the Florida Marlins. He joked that the extended stay down south has taken its toll on him -- Friday's temperature was still 83 degrees when the game started at 8:33 p.m.
"Playing in this heat, I might lose 10 or 15 pounds by then, but it's a good first step," he said. "I'd say I'm right on track for that."