PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — David Wright’s first test every day — the moment that reveals his degree of struggle until he goes back to sleep — is getting out of bed.
“There are some days where I wake up and I feel pretty good,” Wright said on a conference call Wednesday. “There are some days where it’s just OK, and I think with some of the rehab stuff and some of the exercises that I’m given to do on a daily basis that it makes it a better day.
“And there’s some days where I’m fairly useless.”
So it goes with back injuries — or, in the case of Wright, a lengthy history of back, shoulder and neck injuries.
The bad days have been more frequent than the good ones for Wright since he had back surgery in October, his third operation in a year and a half. Because Wright is not progressing as he hoped and expected, Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist, told him this week that it will be at least eight more weeks until Wright can try to resume baseball activity.
That puts Wright at starting his own version of spring training in mid-May at best, closing in on the two-year anniversary of his most recent major league game: May 27, 2016.
“When the doctor says don’t do anything for two months, you listen to him,” Wright said. “I wish there was something I could do to speed it up and I wish there was something I could say to . . . fix it so I could get back out there. But that’s not the case.”
Wright is in Los Angeles, where he will work with Watkins for the next two weeks. He plans to join the Mets for Opening Day and will continue his rehab in New York, spending as much time around the team as possible.
Doctors told Wright after his most recent surgery that recovery usually takes four to six months. If Wright can start up again in eight weeks, it’ll be on the outer edge of that range — seven months — which is something Wright knew was a possibility.
While hesitating to call it a setback, Wright said the pain in his back and shoulder worsened as he started to move more athletically — the sorts of twists and turns required of a baseball player.
“It seemed like the more that we tried to put on my plate, the worse my body was responding,” said Wright, who remains hopeful for a major league return. “If I can get healthy enough to where I can go out here and play and not have to worry about the physical aspect, I think the baseball part of it, I don’t want to say it’s going to be the easy part, but I think once I get back out there and get rolling, I think I can get caught up.”
Manager Mickey Callaway has said he wants Wright around as much as possible, and Wright said he of course enjoys being around his teammates. By continuing his rehab work in New York, he’ll indeed be able to be around during homestands.
But, Wright said, it’s just not the same when he’s not playing every day (or at all).
“You feel somewhat useless,” Wright said. “Because you’re used to, when you grind it out with those guys and you go out there and you ride that roller coaster, the goods and the bads and the ups and the downs, that’s how you gain the respect of the clubhouse and you feel like you’re one of the guys.
“When you’re injured and you’re on the outside looking in, you don’t have that same connection. It’s no fault to the guys in there. It’s just the way that you feel your impact is minimal.”