The Captain could be coming back, and soon.
Mets ownership has met with David Wright to map out a plan for a possible return this season, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The plan could be announced as soon as Thursday, the source said, and it likely will include a possible return date for Wright, who hasn’t played in a major-league game since May 27, 2016. Wright has been coordinating with Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, and the two are in agreement about the third baseman’s immediate future. The Mets have a little less than three weeks left in the season, go on the road beginning Friday, and kick off their final homestand Sept. 25.
And now, there’s a chance Wright could be there, too.
On Wednesday, a jovial Wright was at Citi Field to fete Mets public relations guru Jay Horwitz, who is transitioning to an alumni relations role after 38 years on the job. There, he jokingly confessed to putting eye black on the inside of Horwitz’s binoculars for his entire career.
Wright, who was briefly in the clubhouse prior to his speech, was in uniform before the Mets’ 13-0 drubbing of the Marlins. It was supposed to be a doubleheader, but that was erased after a five-hour, 35-minute rain delay of a game that was scheduled to start at 4:10. Zack Wheeler (11-7) pitched a four-hit shutout for eight innings, while Amed Rosario hit a three-run home run in the third and Jay Bruce hit a grand slam in the sixth.
The doubleheader will be played Thursday instead, with the first game kicking off at 3:10 and the second game coming about 20 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1. Fans with tickets to Wednesday’s games can exchange them for a game during the Mets’ final homestand this year, or an April game next year (not including Opening Day).
If Wright does play this year, it will be the climax of a turbulent few years that often seemed destined to end in his retirement, despite his herculean efforts at a return. He was diagnosed in 2015 with spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spaces in the spine, which compresses the nerves – and that condition led to a slew of other problems that continue to put his career in jeopardy.
Though he rigorously tried to prepare his body for games – Wright would take up to five hours to get in playing shape before he took the field – he eventually landed on the disabled list for good in 2016, thanks to a herniated disc and neck surgery. He had two more surgeries in 2017, on his rotator cuff, in September, and then on his back, in October. During that second surgery, doctors realized how much spinal stenosis had ravaged his body; they discovered a herniated disc, bone spurs and a bad ligament.
Wright reported early for spring training this year, and seemed hopeful he’d play again, but was realistic that the decision ultimately might not be his to make.
“When it’s all said and done, I want me to be able to say I did everything I could,” he said then. “If it works, that’s obviously the goal. If it doesn’t work, I’ll rest easy knowing that I gave it my best shot.”
But the chances of his return seemed to dwindle when he experienced another setback in March. He finally resumed baseball activities in early August, and began his rehab assignment midway through the month. But even just last week, one of the three interim general managers – John Ricco – said Wright wasn’t playing at the level the Mets hoped. “It does get more difficult to foresee a situation where he could come back to that level,” Ricco said Friday.
But Wright completed two simulated games since then, and apparently is no worse for wear.
“My short-term goal is to get back on the field,” Wright said Tuesday. “And I think that’s within reach.”