David Wright has fought back from spinal stenosis that many thought would end his career. He has played through pain and needed to take extra days of rest when it got to be too much. Even on those days, he occasionally has gone through his extensive warmup ritual in case the Mets needed him to pinch hit. He has, in short, done everything he possibly can to stay in the game.
But last week, Wright woke up with a stiff neck unlike any other. What he said Monday is a herniated disc in his neck is threatening what he’s fought so hard to preserve, and a trip to the disabled list seems like a real possibility, manager Terry Collins said.
The Mets third baseman, whose playing time already must be monitored because of his back condition, plans to visit doctors Tuesday to discuss a game plan for his situation. Wright said he hopes to avoid a DL stint. That might not be possible, though, given that he currently has trouble moving his head from side to side and already has missed three games because of the pain he feels even when at rest.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s not anything I can prevent from happening,” Wright said Monday after the Mets’ 1-0 win over the White Sox. “I wish I could. It’s frustrating to sit there and watch the guys go out there, it’s frustrating that it’s something else that I have to worry about other than my back, but again, I’m doing everything in my power to try to stay on the field . . . It is what it is, and you try to keep grinding and fight your way through it.”
Wright said he’s unsure if the spinal stenosis and the herniation are in some way connected, but he added that the anti-inflammatory medicine he’s on appears to be working, if only a little. The pain gradually has lessened since he first felt it, he said, but he’s still not close to resuming baseball activities. Wright added that he and the doctors will discuss a host of options, including perhaps a different treatment regimen.
“With the condition he’s been playing in, yeah I’m concerned about [a trip to the DL],” Collins said. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. But I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”
Rookie Ty Kelly, who made his major-league debut a week ago, played third in place of Wright on Monday and got his first major-league hit.
Wright is hitting .226 with seven home runs and 14 RBIs. He homered in three straight games last week and his five home runs this month are his highest single-month total since June 2013.
Though he has done everything in his power to stay on the field, the Wright of 2016 isn’t insistent on keeping his place on the active roster, not when it’s to the detriment of the team. “That’s a decision they’re going to have to make,” he said of possibly being put on the DL. “I know it’s a struggle for Terry and for everybody to keep playing short.”
That said, he plans to pepper the doctors with questions. He said he wants to know if this injury is connected to his back, wants to learn about different medicines and, in true Wright fashion, wants to find out if he eventually can play through the pain.
“I’m hopeful,” he said. “I’ve got my fingers crossed that this medication kicks in a little bit or if there’s something else that we can do to maybe expedite the process a little bit . . . I’m hoping that as long as I can’t do any serious damage or make it worse, it’s something I’d like to attempt [playing through it] if I start feeling better.”
As if anyone expected anything less.