For 19 minutes on Thursday afternoon, during his first public appearance since his latest setback in an ongoing fight to seize control of his career from his own failing body, David Wright was asked to dissect his own baseball mortality.
Sensing the not-so-subtle theme, the Mets’ captain laughed before blurting an observation of his own.
“There’s a lot of questions like I’m dying,” said Wright, who had a black sling protecting his surgically repaired right shoulder. “I’m not dying.”
But Wright’s appearance underscored the tenuous nature of his continuing attempt to beat the odds and return to the field before he’s ready to call it quits — on his own terms.
“I still feel that there’s something I have to give,” he said. “There’s only one way to find that out, [and that] is to get back out on the field and see what’s there.”
Wright, 34, underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a damaged rotator cuff in his right shoulder, which had not responded to rehab. As he’s done for much of his career, he tried playing through pain, but a three-game minor-league rehab stint made it clear that there would be no path forward without surgery.
“It was a no-brainer to get this done,” said Wright, who attributed his noticeable weight loss to spending the mid-summer months in the sweltering humidity of South Florida.
Players typically try to avoid rotator cuff surgery, a procedure that carries few assurances of returning to previous form. Wright acknowledged that he consented to the operation partly out of concern for quality of life once he decides he’s done playing.
Since early 2015, Wright has been locked in a cycle of grueling rehab, first for the spinal stenosis that continues to affect his back and then after season-ending neck surgery in June 2016. Shoulder problems popped up in spring training and never subsided.
Every decision to move forward, he said, has been weighed against making sure not to compromise his health in his post-baseball life. As long as he’s not putting himself at risk, Wright insisted that he still has the competitive fire to keep pressing on.
For now, he dismissed the idea of giving up his comeback to take on duties as a coach or a manager. “I guess I would never say never,” he said. “But right now, no.”
Wright has no timeline on when he might be ready for baseball activities. He made it clear that he would move off third base and has no problem with the Mets seeking a long-term replacement at the position.
“It’s been well documented that as much as it hurts to say this, I haven’t exactly been able to be counted on these last couple of years,” said Wright, who has played 75 games since the start of 2015, including none this season.