David Wright will have surgery Tuesday to repair the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, yet another daunting hurdle that diminishes his already slim chances of navigating what has been a long and thus far fruitless path back to health and the big leagues.
For Wright’s battered body, it will be the second major surgery in the last 15 months. The Mets captain last played in May 2016, just before neck surgery. He previously was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a chronic back condition that requires constant management.
The seven-time All-Star must defeat that triumvirate of maladies to fulfill a goal that seems to remain unchanged: returning to the field so he can step away on his own terms.
“I salute him for what he’s had to go through, but it’s real ly, really tough to watch,” manager Terry Collins said Monday before the Mets’ 11-7 win over the Phillies.
The Mets did not release a timeline for recovery. Players often prefer to avoid rotator cuff surgery, partly because rehab can present complications and drag on for more than a year. Even those who undergo surgery may return in diminished form.
“It’s not an easy one,” said Jose Reyes, a longtime friend of Wright’s. “It’s sad with all the work that he’s put in.”
Shoulder issues have derailed Wright’s efforts all season. When he appeared in Grapefruit League games in spring training, he was limited to DH duties because shoulder discomfort prevented him from throwing. He eventually was shut down, and at the time, he believed the shoulder pain was fallout from last year’s neck surgery.
After another extended absence this summer, Wright progressed to playing three minor-league rehab games late last month, even playing third base for the first time since last year. But he was shut down a week ago, and shoulder pain again was the culprit.
“He’s tried to go back out and throw and it just continues to be extremely painful for him,” Collins said. “And so they decided we’ve got to have this checked. They found the issue. When it took place, I don’t know.”
Wright, 34, has given no indication that he is considering retirement. Neither Reyes nor Collins expressed surprise that he would keep pursuing a comeback despite the need for major surgery.
“The only thing I can tell you is during our discussions, he’s said, ‘Look, I think I still have something to offer and I’ve got to give myself that chance to see if I can do it,’ ” Collins said. “Some of it is we sit back as people who watched him when he was the best and say, ‘Why would you go through with it?’ And I just think this guy’s heart’s still in it and he’s going to chase it as long as he feels like he has that energy.”
After this year, Wright is owed $47 million over the next three seasons. Insurance covers 75 percent of his salary as long as he’s on the disabled list.
The Mets already have hinted that they’ll explore long-term options at third base this offseason. Those efforts weren’t as aggressive last winter, as Wright would have been the primary third baseman in 2017 had he returned from neck surgery.
Collins said he stands behind Wright’s decision, which he believes stems from an obligation to give “max effort.” Reyes said he is “100 percent” in support of Wright’s wishes to press on.
“He’s a competitor,” Reyes said. “He wants to be back on the field. He doesn’t want to end up where he doesn’t play again. Like I said, as a good friend of his, I support him either way. It’s not an easy decision with all the work he put in and all this time.”
David Wright has played in a total of 75 games the past three seasons because of a series of debilitating injuries. His medical chart since 2015:
April: Departed game with what is initially diagnosed as a right hamstring strain.
May: Diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a chronic back condition that is often an underlying cause of hamstring injuries.
May: Experienced neck discomfort caused by a herniated disc.
June: Underwent neck surgery to repair herniated disc.
March: Diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement, which prevented him from throwing without discomfort.
September: Will undergo right shoulder surgery in New York to repair rotator cuff.