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David Wright has strained rib cage, may miss Mets' opener

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David Wright is not expected to return to Team USA for the rest of the World Baseball Classic.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- New York Mets third baseman David Wright has a moderate strain on the left side of his rib cage that will shut him down until next week, leaving his status for opening day uncertain.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Wright would rest for three to five days. Only time will tell whether the 30-year-old star is ready to begin the regular season on April 1, the GM said Friday.

"Anything about his availability for opening day is speculative," Alderson said. "Is it possible he'll be out for a longer time? Sure."

Wright, the Mets' career hits leader, was a late scratch from the United States lineup against the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic on Thursday night. He returned to New York for tests and was examined by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Alderson said Wright had a moderate intercostal strain on the left side. Wright got an injection, will rejoin the team in Port St. Lucie on Saturday and rest before starting up again.

Alderson announced the diagnosis after the Mets beat Atlanta 5-2.

Wright signed an eight-year, $138 million extension with the Mets in the offseason. He missed most of the spring training games last year with a torn rib cage muscle. Alderson said he didn't think the injury was related to a stress fracture Wright sustained in his lower back in 2011.

The Mets don't have a lot of depth at the third base. Zach Lutz is the only other true third baseman on the 40-man roster, and Brandon Hicks started at the spot Friday.

Mets manager Terry Collins said infielder Justin Turner would also spend time at the spot. Collins said he heard about Wright's condition Friday morning.

"I didn't exactly have the best breakfast today. It was a little sour tasting," he said.

As for the return of his star right-handed hitter, "if he can't swing for two weeks, there's going to be a progression. It'll be a slow progression," Collins said.

"It's unfair for me to predict when he might be back."

While Wright said he had been feeling soreness for almost a week, Alderson said the team was not aware of any issues until Thursday. The decision to pull Wright from the lineup came about 20 minutes before the start of the WBC game, after Wright was fully dressed and had taken batting practice.

"It was yesterday we became aware of the problem and when we became aware of it, we contacted Team USA immediately and had him re-examined," Alderson said. "We also, in addition to the medical track, on the administrative side, we contacted other team officials. So he was examined and the determination was that he would not play.

"I think David - I'm not sure when this was first experienced - he had hoped it would go away. It didn't and he felt a responsibility to deal with it. Again, when we were alerted, we took what we thought was the right course of action."

Wright had been the offensive catalyst for the U.S. in the WBC, earning the nickname "Captain America" after batting .438 (7-for-16) with a game-breaking grand slam against Italy and 10 RBIs in four games. Wright said he was disappointed by the decision not to play Thursday, something Alderson reiterated Friday.

"David's a guy that doesn't overreact to things," Alderson said. "He's committed, when he makes commitments he wants to execute on them, carry them out and I'm sure he felt a responsibility to Team USA. This was a difficult development for him to accept, but in the final analysis, we felt this was the right thing to do."

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