SF@NYM: Tejada breaks leg after collision with Brown

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins expected to speak with Ruben Tejada on Thursday, one day after a broken right fibula ended the shortstop's season.

"My message is real simple: this job is his," Collins said of next year's starting shortstop gig. "But he's got to show everybody that he wants it desperately."

It is a similar message to what Collins has told Tejada each of the past two springs, only to watch his shortstop fizzle over the summer. This year, multiple major injuries, offensive struggles and a purported lack of work ethic conspired to send Tejada plummeting down the organizational depth chart.

"It's big-time frustrating," Tejada said of his latest injury. "I can't do anything [about] that. Learn about that, keep working and keep going forward."

The team's unquestioned starter at shortstop heading into Spring Training, Tejada will now enter this offseason with his future in flux -- even if his manager extended an offer of stability.

"You've got to say, 'Hey look, I'm going to dedicate this offseason to show up next spring to be the best player that I can possibly be,'" Collins said. "He's good enough to be that guy. But as this year showed, no job's that secure. You've got to come in and say, 'This is my job. I'm taking it. Nobody else is going to get it.'"

In the short term, Wilfredo Tovar will join the Mets in time for Friday's series opener in Philadelphia, platooning at shortstop with Omar Quintanilla. In the long term, anything can happen.

Though this winter's crop of free-agent shortstops is not barren, the top names available -- Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew, to name two -- come with significant risks. More likely, the Mets could look to replace Tejada via trade, given the pitching depth in their Minor League system.

But as far as internal options go, Collins said, Tejada remains the organization's top option.

"I don't ever worry about who's not here," Collins said. "The guys that are here right now, that should be his job. But he's got to go get it. It's not going to be handed to him."

Wright feels good, inching closer to return

MIA@NYM: Wright explains why he's coming back to play

NEW YORK -- Since the time David Wright went on the disabled list, he's been steadfast that it would take about six to eight weeks to rehab his strained right hamstring back to full strength. That was the timetable the Mets' medical staff gave him, and he didn't expect it to change.

It's been about seven weeks since Wright was placed on the DL on Aug. 3. The third baseman's return to the lineup appears to be on schedule.

"I think that it takes a little bit of time to get into that baseball shape, and I'm getting pretty close," Wright said.

Wright went through running and fielding drills on consecutive days for the first time on Wednesday. He was back on the field on Thursday, and said he would see how he feels later in the day and then on Friday before determining if he'll play the Mets' series opener in Philadelphia.

"I feel as good as I can," Wright said. "It's tough being away from doing those types of things for so long and all of a sudden doing that and trying to rush everything as soon as possible."

He's been giving full effort while going through all of these drills, but it's still not the same as being in a game when his competitiveness is at its peak. Having to burst out of the batter's box to leg out a grounder or running in to field a slow roller to third base is going to add extra strain on his hamstring.

That's something the Mets have had to take into consideration when trying to get Wright back in a game. They want to make sure his legs are ready for those types of bursts of speed.

"That just can't be replicated," Wright said. 'The only way to feel confident about doing that is getting in a game and doing it. Obviously we've done everything we can to simulate or try to create game situations. Until you get in a game, you never know. But I feel like I'm pretty close."

As he's always been, though, Wright was adamant about playing again this season. Shutting it down until Spring Training isn't an option he's considering.

"If I'm able to play, I want to play," Wright said. "I don't understand why somebody that's healthy, that can play, that doesn't play."

Wright said he wants to play in front of the Mets' fans on their final homestand next week, and he wants to carry some degree of momentum into next season. It's been a difficult season for both Wright and the Mets, but this is one battle the third baseman said he wants to win.

Mets manager Terry Collins said it would also benefit the team's younger players to play alongside Wright, if even for a short amount of time before the season ends.

"Any time you play side by side with one of the best players in baseball," Collins said, "you're going to get something out of it."

Parnell expects to be ready by spring after surgery

NYM@MIA: Parnell gets groundout to earn the save

NEW YORK -- After undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, Mets closer Bobby Parnell is confident he'll be ready for the start of Spring Training.

"Chances are pretty good. I don't know the numbers or anything, but everyone has assured me that I will," Parnell said. "I feel very confident that everything's going to get back to normal."

Dr. Robert Watkins performed Parnell's surgery on Sept. 10 in California. Parnell was in the Mets' clubhouse following their 2-1 loss to the Giants on Thursday. He wore a neck brace and said the only discomfort he's experiencing now is soreness from the operation.

Watkins removed the disk from Parnell's neck and replaced it with a bone graft from his hip.

Parnell first experienced neck stiffness during New York's series in Miami in late July. He received anti-inflammatories and underwent an epidural procedure during the following week, but the stiffness remained. The Mets ended up placing him on the disabled list on Aug. 6

While surgery was always a possibility, Parnell said he initially wanted to avoid it. But after gathering more information and advice, he learned it was a common procedure with strong results. Further medical examinations also showed surgery was becoming more of a necessity.

"I had a follow-up MRI before I went to California, and the herniation hadn't shrunk and possibly had gotten bigger," Parnell said. "Just for me to be ready for Spring Training, I needed to do it."

Walking is about the extent of the physical activity he's allowed to do for the next four to six weeks, when Parnell then will see Watkins again for a follow-up examination.

Parnell emerged as a reliable closer for the Mets this season, with 22 saves in 26 chances. The 29-year-old was 5-5 with a 2.16 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 50 innings.

"It's never enough, but I feel confident with what I did," Parnell said. "I feel like it's a good stepping stone for the future. I learned a lot of things about myself and I'm going to continue to carry it on to the next year."

Worth noting

• Whether Zack Wheeler has one or two starts remaining will depend upon how deep he pitches Monday in Cincinnati, according to Collins. Wheeler has pitched 168 2/3 innings between Triple-A Las Vegas and New York this season, 19 2/3 more than he did over two levels a year ago. The Mets do not want him to exceed last year's total by much more than 30.