As of early this morning, a hand specialist has cleared third baseman David Wright to play with his fractured right pinkie. During the Mets off day yesterday, the New York third baseman made his second consecutive visit to the doctor, and had a splint custom made for his finger. I’m not sure if this splint is supposed to be magical, but manager Terry Collins is still saying to the media that he wouldn’t be surprised if he was writing Wright’s name into the three spot in the Mets lineup for their first game against the Philadelphia Phillies tonight. Now that he has been cleared to play by doctors, a decision will be made tonight if Wright’s name will be in Collins’ lineup card.
I know a fracture isn’t as bad as a broken bone, it was clear on Tuesday in Citi Field’s indoor cage that Wright was not able to swing the bat effectively. Even if the swelling goes down significantly with the treatment he is receiving, I find it hard to believe that he will be able to hit and field at a level that will be beneficial for the Mets to put him into the lineup. If this was his pinkie on his left, non-throwing hand, then it could possibly be a different story. With enough padding in his glove, he might have been able to get away with making plays in the field and hit with some sort of effectiveness at the plate. However, Wright can’t have much padding on his right pinkie because it will get in the way of his throwing motion, and since he naturally hits the ball the other way, it will be difficult for him to continue his hot hitting.
Depending on whether a player is a pull hitter or not determines which hand dominates their swing on a regular basis. For a right-handed hitter, if the left hand dominates the swing, they are a pull hitter, but if the right hand dominates the swing, they are more apt to spray the ball all over the field. You hear Keith Hernandez say it time and time again, when David Wright is in a groove and hitting the ball well, he is hitting it to right-center field, with authority. That home run he hit into the bullpen at Citi Field is a perfect example. He was able to do that because his right hand was healthy enough to dictate his swing through the zone, allowing him to push the ball that way. If he was a pull hitter, having a fractured finger on his right hand wouldn’t be as much an issue because the left hand is the dominant one in that kind of swing. Unfortunately for David and the Mets, that’s not the case.
Would I love to see our franchise player back in the lineup for the first game of 2012 against the rival Phillies? More than anything in the world. What I want more though, is for David to be around for as close to 162 games this year as possible. If he rushes back before he is ready, there is a good chance we could lose him for a couple months, just like what happened last year. Even though it is clear that this lineup needs his presence badly, I would rather him go on the disabled list for a couple of weeks to allow his finger ample time to heal if that’s what he really needs.
What makes this injury so frustrating? Through the first four games of the season with David in the lineup, we saw exactly how effective this lineup could be, even without production from Ike Davis or Jason Bay, and Andres Torres hurt. I don’t know about you, but I was licking my chops seeing this offense perform how they were before all of the wheels were turning. It was weird seeing all the starters in the lineup at once because over the past few years, that has seldom happened. Now that the doctors have cleared Wright, it will be up to him and the coahces to decide whether or not he is fit to play. I hope he is, but I also hope he doesn’t force it.