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Wright's spring debut bodes well for MLB return

Saturday's Say Hey includes David Wright's first 2016 spring training appearance, Kris Bryant's 2016 college baseball debut and a possible change of heart for Pablo Sandoval.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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David Wright is back, and we're knocking on wood with crossed fingers that he's back for good. The Mets lost their star third baseman last May when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a permanent spine condition that severely restricted his mobility on the field and limited both his major league appearances and his offseason workout routine. On Friday afternoon, Wright decorated his first Grapefruit League game with a pair of singles and a solid five innings at the hot corner. It may not be the flashy home run that kicked off his 2015 campaign, but if the Mets are hoping for a major league-ready third baseman by Opening Day, it's certainly a promising start.

Still, the club is playing it safe until it's clear Wright can handle a heavier workload. Shoulder and back injuries have severely hampered the 33-year-old's progress over the last couple of seasons, and expecting him to match the 600 PA, 7 WAR output he produced back in 2012 feels unrealistic at this point. To that end, the Mets have devised a list of backup candidates as potential replacements that is limited but not dismal, including Eric Campbell, Wilmer Flores and even Asdrubal Cabrera, provided that he recovers from his own stint on the disabled list in time. Both Campbell and Flores have been getting reps in over the last two weeks, though it's understood that Wright will be penciled into the Opening Day lineup if all goes according to plan.

Looking beyond the start of the season, Amazin' Avenue's Ketul Shah sees no reason why spinal stenosis should keep Wright out of the game on a long-term basis. Although the infielder's condition is a permanent one, it can be effectively managed through careful adherence to a regimen of rest and exercise, and with the Mets' cautious handling of Wright's preseason practices, a season of 400+ PA should be well within his reach. If his performance in the 2015 postseason is any indication, Wright is more than capable of working through his injuries to deliver big results. The key for both parties in 2016 will be a slow, steady approach -- and hopefully one with a satisfying payoff at the end.