PHILADELPHIA - David Wright had not stepped into a big-league batter's box since April, and so much had happened since then.
At one point, he had trouble standing upright without pain, fallout from what the world's foremost specialists would later discover was the back condition spinal stenosis.
Even manager Terry Collins admitted that as recently as June, he doubted that this day would come.
Yet Wright needed only one remarkable moment to establish that he had indeed returned from the back ailment that some believed could threaten his career.
On the third pitch he saw, on the first swing he took in his first at-bat, Wright hit a mammoth solo homer that jump-started the Mets in a 16-7 trouncing of the Phillies Monday night.
The homer was measured by Statcast at 428 feet while coming off the bat at 108 mph. The pitch left the hand of Phillies righty Adam Morgan and landed in the upper deck in the far reaches of leftfield at Citizens Bank Park.
Wright, who had only nine singles in his minor-league rehab stint, circled the bases at a rapid clip before returning to a dugout that mobbed him with high-fives. "It almost feels like Opening Day, where you have some butterflies," Wright said before the game. "Kind of nervous excitement."
Not all of his first game back went smoothly. At third base, Wright made two errors, the second on a routine grounder that elicited an out-of-character display of anger. It provided a hint of the potential awkwardness that could come if Wright fails to regain his form.
Already, he and Collins have come to an understanding that his stature alone won't keep him in the lineup. But Wright spoke about not letting things get to that point. Batting in the cleanup spot, he offered a glimpse of the talent that remains despite the injuries that have slowed his production in recent years.
Wright reached base three times in six plate appearances, adding a walk and a broken-bat single to his homer, his first since April 10.
Charged up by the allure of playing in a pennant race, a privilege that has defied Wright since 2008, he wasted little time throwing himself back into the flow.
A night before his return, he greeted the team at their hotel. According to mlb.com, Wright donned a full game uniform and brought trays of cookies for the entire traveling party.
Part of Wright's new reality demands that he tacks on another hour to his already elaborate pregame routine. He needs the extra time to perform the necessary maintenance on his back.
Yet he greeted that challenge with joy. Hours before first pitch, he plopped down on a black stretching mat in a hallway near the clubhouse. Later, his voice boomed through a tunnel near the dugout, where he and his teammates laughed through a round of batting practice.
When it came time to take swings on the field, a large group of Mets fans showered him with applause. Even in enemy territory, he found plenty of supporters. One held a sign that read simply: "Welcome Back Captain."
Collins had hoped that Wright's return would come at Citizens Bank Park, where he historically has been a terror. Soon, Wright was circling the bases on his 20th homer hit in this ballpark. Said Wright: "It's been a long road."