PITTSBURGH — Saturday was an anniversary that no one in the Mets organization wanted to acknowledge. The front office talked around it and Terry Collins said it just made him sad. Jose Reyes was shocked.
Saturday marked one year since David Wright had last played a game.
“That’s hard to believe,” said Reyes. “He’s my friend and I know it’s hard for him, but you wouldn’t know. Everyday, he comes in and works so hard. He is in the weight room, doing everything he can to get back. Everyday he comes to the ballpark with a smile and determined to get back.
“But, wow. One year.”
Which leaves some of us wondering not when we will see Wright on the field again, but if we will see the 34-year old third baseman again.
I hope we do. That is a sentiment that is universal in the organization and pretty much throughout baseball. Wright is not only a tremendous player, but also the stand-up Met for the past 13 years. He is a career .296 hitter with 242 home runs, 970 RBI in 1,583 career games.
His bat is not only missed in the Mets lineup, but there is a void in the clubhouse without him.
“I am really sad about it,” Collins said. “Very disappointed that he’s had to endure what he has had to endure. This guy is not just a great person, but one of the best players in all of baseball. To not have him here and have his presence on this team, with what he brings to the clubhouse every day is tough.”
Wright is not just trying to come back from June 2016 neck surgery, but he’s doing it while dealing with spinal stenosis, the painful narrowing of the spine he was diagnosed with in 2015. He was not available to comment, but this spring he explained his mindset while trying to salvage his career.
“I still enjoy what I do,” Wright said in March after being shut down from throwing the first time this year with a shoulder impingement. “It’s not like I dread coming to the ballpark. I have a lot of fun coming to the ballpark and, yeah, it stinks having to rehab and having a couple of major injuries the last few years, but at the end of the day I love taking the field.
“And if I can do this rehab and put in this time to get back on the field, and do what I love doing, then it’s well worth it in my mind.”
For now, he is not putting the Mets in a position where they need him to come back quickly or decide on retiring. They have Wright under contract through 2020 and owe him $67 million, including $20 million this year. The team had insurance on the contract, which repays them in the case of injury.
Though he did not return a message Friday about the topic, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said several times this year that he still thinks it is realistic that Wright could play this season.
Privately, even sources in the organization who normally are quick to offer opinions won’t speculate on Wright’s future.
Right now, Wright is in New York just doing physical therapy at the Hospital of Special Surgery. After having been shut down in spring training, Wright has attempted to begin a throwing program at least once, but currently he is not throwing.
He hasn’t really thrown since that May 27, 2016 game. He homered in the Mets’ 6-5 win over the Dodgers at Citi Field and the next day he was out of the lineup with neck stiffness. He had surgery in June.
This spring, after starting a throwing program he was shut down quickly and was diagnosed with an impingement in his shoulder, which he described as coming from weakness in the shoulder after inactivity. He began the season on the disabled list with no timetable for his return.
So Wright spends his time in New York doing rehab and then heading to the ballpark. He works out and is in the clubhouse and dugout with his teammates.
“That’s who he is,” Collins said. “You are looking at a guy who can’t do anything, but he’s on the bench every night the whole game, talking to guys, trying to be himself. It’s gotta be killing him inside not to be able to play…. It’s a great lesson if people, young players watch. It’s a great lesson to watch.
“But it’s sad he’s not here.”