(Reuters) - New York Mets third baseman David Wright will miss the rest of the World Baseball Classic with a moderate intercostal muscle strain, his Major League Baseball team said on Friday.
Wright was a late scratch prior to Thursday’s Team USA game against the Dominican Republic in Miami when he complained about soreness in his rib cage near his back and was examined by Mets doctors in New York on Friday.
“He will rest three to five days and he’ll resume activity at that time,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson told reporters.
Wright was already unavailable for Friday’s elimination game against Puerto Rico, and the U.S. team can only replace him on their roster if they win this do-or-die showdown that puts the victor into the semi-finals.
Team USA has already lined up San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley to join the team should the Americans advance.
Headley led the National League in runs batted in last season with 115, blasted 31 home runs and also snared the Gold Glove award as the league’s top-fielding third baseman.
The Mets can only wait and see how quickly Wright heals with Opening Day to the 2013 MLB season just over two weeks away.
“Anything about his condition for Opening Day, I think that’s speculative,” said Alderson. “Is it possible he’ll be out for a longer period of time? Sure, but what we know now is he’ll rest for three to five days and we’ll see what happens.”
Wright was dubbed “Captain America” for his hitting heroics during the WBC, batting .438 with two doubles, a grand slam home run and a WBC record-tying 10 runs batted in.
The Mets were hoping for more of the same once he rejoined the club from the international tournament after signing him to a seven-year, $122 million contract extension in the offseason.
Wright, 30, hit .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBIs last season and was named to the All-Star team for a sixth time.
The U.S.-Puerto Rico winner will join the Dominican Republic, two-time reigning champions Japan and the Netherlands in the semi-finals.
The semi-finals of the 16-team tournament will be held on Sunday and Monday in San Francisco, with the championship game on Tuesday.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue