By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Four weeks after straining his right hamstring, David Wright is ready for the next step in his recovery.
The All-Star third baseman was headed to the New York Mets’ complex in Florida on Thursday, a day before the team begins a nine-game road trip. He said he feels fine swinging and fielding, but he’s not running full speed and isn’t ready for rehab games.
Mets manager Terry Collins had said Wright might play in a minor league game this weekend.
“Hopefully soon,” Wright said. “I think I’m ahead of schedule.”
After playing through nagging soreness in his hamstring for about a week, Wright was injured Aug. 2 while legging out an infield single. He said the medical staff has told him it’s a six-week injury, which would put him on track to return in mid-September.
The Mets’ captain is determined to come back before the season ends because he doesn’t want to go into next year with any uncertainty about his health. But he wants to make sure he rehabs properly and heals completely so his hamstring doesn’t become a chronic problem.
“I want to finish the season strong,” Wright said. “All signs are good. I haven’t had a single setback yet.”
A seven-time All-Star, Wright is hitting .309 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. While the team was home, he worked with the Mets’ medical staff at Citi Field. Now, he’ll report to Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Philadelphia infielder Michael Young cautioned Wright this week against rushing back from a strained hamstring. Young said he did just that and got reinjured during the 2009 pennant race with Texas, costing him two more weeks.
Wright said he appreciated the gesture.
“Basically the cardinal rule I told him was _ and this was told to me by other guys who had hamstring injuries _ the second you think you’re ready to play, wait three more days,” Young said. “That way you know you’re ready.”
It’s been a difficult month for Wright and the rebuilding Mets, who are 11-14 since his injury.
All-Star ace Matt Harvey was diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament Monday and hopes to avoid Tommy John surgery. One day later, New York traded two of its top run producers (Marlon Byrd and John Buck) to Pittsburgh for a pair of prospects.
“I think that the Matt Harvey situation obviously kind of blindsided everybody, as well as he’s been throwing the ball,” Wright said. “But I’ve done my rehab with him the last couple days and he’s in good spirits.”
The 24-year-old Harvey has blossomed into one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers during his first full season in the majors. But his injury jeopardizes New York’s aspirations of contending for a playoff spot next season.
Tommy John surgery would likely sideline Harvey for all of 2014, though the right-hander tweeted Tuesday that he’ll be back on the mound next April. He was heartened after talking to other pitchers who had similar symptoms or injuries and didn’t require surgery, including Philadelphia right-hander Roy Halladay.
The Mets said no decision will be made until Harvey is re-examined in a few weeks after the swelling subsides.
“Hopefully, he can just rehab it. But if surgery is the option, then we’ve got to find a way,” Wright said.
One reason Wright signed a $138 million, eight-year contract last winter was his faith in general manager Sandy Alderson and all the young power pitching the Mets have on the horizon.
However, Harvey is a huge cornerstone.
“I don’t think one injury that may or may not affect next year is going to affect the overall plan,” said the 30-year-old Wright. “With the money that we have coming off the books this year, I expect us to go out there and make this team better, whether it’s through free agency, whether it’s through trades. I still believe in the vision that Sandy has.
“Hopefully, Matt’s back next year. But if not, I’m still confident in the plan,” he added.
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