MIAMI (AP) New York Mets third baseman David Wright will be out at least six weeks and perhaps a lot longer with a herniated disk in his neck, and the team didn't try to minimize the loss Friday.
''It's going to be tough,'' manager Terry Collins said. ''It's pretty shocking to hear about the length of time.''
Wright had been sidelined since Monday, and the Mets initially hoped the injury was minor. He planned to fly to California to see Dr. Robert Watkins for further evaluation to figure out whether it is possible to avoid surgery.
Wright, 33, is expected to need six to eight weeks of rest and rehabilitation, the Mets said, and they put him on the disabled list. He was batting only .226 with seven homers and 14 RBIs for the defending NL champions, but he had homered in three straight games and his role as captain makes him difficult to replace.
''We've got to pick it up certainly in the clubhouse,'' Collins said. ''His leadership off the field is second to none. We need to pick that part of it up and just hope he gets better, just hope he gets through this. I know he'll put the time and effort into the rehab to get back, and we'll just hope he gets back soon.''
New York's starting lineup is now missing Wright and first baseman Lucas Duda, who has a stress fracture in his lower back. The Mets said May 23 that Duda will be sidelined at least four to six weeks.
Another sidelined Met, right-hander Zack Wheeler, is now expected to return from Tommy John surgery in mid-July. That's two weeks later than the previous projection, but Wheeler nonetheless eagerly anticipates his return.
''It's sneaking up on me,'' he said. ''It's getting here quick.''
Wheeler has been rehabbing at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He joined the team for the weekend in Miami and plans to throw a bullpen session Saturday.
''I'm just building up my pitch count,'' he said.
Wright was on the disabled list last year from April 15 to Aug. 24 when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. Collins said he's confident Wright will return this season.
In the meantime, he said, Wilmer Flores will play third, and he was in the lineup Friday when the Mets began a 10-game trip in Miami. Flores went into the game batting .167 for a team that hit .211 in May, worst in the majors.
''We need everybody to step up,'' Collins said. ''We're not hitting very good.''
Flores batted .263 with 16 home runs last year, when he had a career-high 483 at-bats. Resuming the role of a regular will help him at the plate, he said.
''Knowing that you can be in the lineup every day, it changes everything,'' Flores said. ''It's something that I've done a lot, and I know what to do, and so it's definitely going to be easier for me to find my way out there.''
The Mets recalled infielder Matt Reynolds to take Wright's spot on the roster.