After undergoing his third major surgery in three years in October, David Wright made it clear that he intends to continue working toward a comeback with the New York Mets.
Three months later, and with spring training now in sight, the only thing that’s changed is that Wright’s determination to see his comeback bid through has grown stronger.
Though Wright admittedly doesn’t know if he’ll ever be a productive major leaguer again, let alone one healthy enough to participate in Mets’ training camp, he made it clear to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo on Friday that he will keeping working toward a comeback.
“I don’t want to have regrets,” Wright said before hosting his annual Vegas Night to benefit the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Virginia. “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.
“When the end comes, the end comes,” he added. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
After appearing in at least 134 games eight times over his first 11 seasons, Wright has been limited to 75 games total over the last three. That includes missing the entire 2017 season as he recovered from multiple ailments.
In 2015, Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column that leads to pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Wright underwent surgery to address that issue in 2016.
Unfortunately, his body continued to break down last season. In September, he had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. In October, he underwent a back procedure known as a laminotomy, which is a removal of a small portion of the lamina and ligaments.
Each injury and resulting operation on its own would be enough to derail a career. That’s especially true for a now 35-year-old who has been active in competitive sports since he could first throw a ball. Cumulatively, they stack the odds higher than perhaps any athlete could overcome. Yet despite the physical pain he’s already gone through and will undoubtedly continue enduring to make his comeback a reality, Wright’s not giving up the fight.
“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,” Wright said. “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.
“Everything is a concern for me. 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.”
It’s an uphill battle to be sure. Even if Wright proves healthy, there’s the issue of proving he can still produce at a level that makes sense for the Mets to play him. Though third base has been a massive problem for New York without Wright, they’d have to see a lot of progress to move forward with him.
On the business side, the Mets still owe Wright $47 million over the next three seasons after he signed an eight-year, $138 million extension after the 2012 season. But that doesn’t mean they’d rush him out there in a last ditch effort to maximize the deal. A lot of that money has already been recouped through an insurance policy on his contract. If Wright’s body doesn’t hold up, it won’t crush them financially.
Considering everything Wright has gone through in a Mets uniform, including playing through six straight losing seasons and now working so hard to come back, we can’t imagine anywhere that would be pulling against him. Everyone should be rooting for Wright to complete his unlikely comeback and ultimately go out on his own terms.
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