Posted on January 20, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been roughly 20 months since New York Mets third baseman David Wright has played in a major league game. His medical ailments over the last few years have become too many to list. Even if he does make it back to the field in 2018, it won’t be medically possible for him to be an everyday player. But with three years left on his contract, the 35-year old Wright has no plans to retire just yet. He’s going to exhaust every chance he has to play in the big leagues before he considers retirement.
“I don’t want to have regrets,” Wright said about retiring without another comeback attempt. “If I can’t play? Then I’ll be able to say I gave it my best shot, I really did. And if I can play, which obviously is the goal, then that’s great as well. And that’s ideal. I just don’t want to have any regrets when it’s all said and done that if I would have just put in some more work, or if I would have just concentrated a little more on the rehab program, I might have been able to do it.”
The biggest concern with Wright is his spinal stenosis, which is a chronic condition he will have to manage the rest of his life. Even if he were otherwise fine health-wise, spinal stenosis would force him to sit at least a couple days every week.
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Unfortunately, Wright has issues that go beyond his back. He had surgery on his rotator cuff after shoulder trouble hindered his throwing last spring. He also underwent neck surgery in 2016. Wright also had another back procedure in October to remove bone spurs, a ligament, and a herniated disk in his lower back.
“The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” says Wright. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.”
When speaking at a charity event Friday, Wright declined to go into detail about his latest doctor visits. At this point, not even Wright knows his status for the season because he isn’t sure how his body will hold up physically.
“Everything is a concern for me,” says Wright. “I haven’t progressed to the point where I’ll know how it feels to throw a baseball until we get closer to spring. I certainly don’t know how the back is going to hold up.”
As it stands, the Mets are proceeding as if they’re not going to have Wright in 2018. If the season started today, Asdrubal Cabrera would be the team’s primary third baseman. It’s also possible that the Mets sign or trade for an established third baseman, pushing Cabrera to second base. It’s something that Wright understands.
“It really hurts to say this, but I obviously can’t be relied on to go out there and do what I’ve done throughout my career,”he said Friday. “That is a tough thing to say.”
However, unless doctors tell him that his long-term health and quality of life are in jeopardy by continuing to play, Wright is going to keep trying to comeback. For a decade, he was one of the best third basemen in baseball. But Wright isn’t happy with playing just 75 games over the last three seasons. He doesn’t want to end his career like that. So while others expect him to retire, Wright will push forward until he can push no further.
“When the end comes, the end comes,” Wright says. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”