— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 17, 2018
New York Mets captain David Wright met with the press in Port St. Lucie on Saturday and the results were heartbreaking.
Say what you will about David Wright, but the (arguably) greatest player in New York Mets history deserves to go out on his own terms. Unfortunately, his body doesn’t seem like it’s going to afford him that chance.
“It’s certainly been an uphill climb for me,” Wright told reporters, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, when asked about his outlook for 2018. “I’d love to play again. But my body’s gotta hold up, and gonna have to cooperate with me a little bit.”
Wright, 35, hasn’t played in more than 150 games since 2012. He hasn’t played in more than 130 games since 2014. Since 2015, he’s played in a total of 75 games, missing all of 2017 due to spinal stenosis, an affliction that has the seven-time All-Star struggling away from the field.
Anyone with a heart has to take pity on David Wright, whose spinal stenosis is so severe there are days he can't stand up for more than five minutes without severe pain. Hard to imagine he'll ever play again. Wright's comments today suggest he knows it too.
— Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) February 17, 2018
That “there are days he can’t stand up for more than five minutes without severe pain” is just heartbreaking to read, and it’s not something you’d ever think would apply to a 35-year-old, much less a 35-year-old professional athlete.
With Todd Frazier joining the Mets, it’s clear that the team doesn’t believe their captain can have a significant impact on the field in 2018—if ever again. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t have a role with the Mets in 2018. Earlier this week, manager Mickey Callaway spoke about the integral role he’d like Wright to fill, whether he’s playing or not.
“I think that obviously, I’m going to have a good relationship or try to have the best relationship I possibly can with everybody on the team, whether it’s our seventh outfielder on the depth chart or David Wright,” per the New York Daily News. “I’m going to communicate with them. I’m definitely gonna communicate with David. I’m going to lean on him at times to help us with what we’re trying to accomplish as a culture. As far as his work goes, he’s still in the rehab process and that is something that takes place with the trainers and guys like that. So we’re going to let him do his best job to get ready for the season and go from there.”
Sad as it is to say, Wright’s impact in the clubhouse as a pseudo-coach could be far more significant than anything he could do on the field. There’s no better person for youngsters like Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith to learn from; no better person to help keep part-time malcontents like Yoenis Cespedes on track.
The odds are stacked against David Wright playing baseball again. For the first time, he seems to be at peace with that possibility. Maybe it’s time the rest of us join him.