MIAMI — Almost a year after last getting into a game — and about 2 1⁄2 seasons since his most recent major-league appearance — David Wright is going to play baseball again.
Wright will begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment Sunday, when he is scheduled for five innings at third base with high Class A St. Lucie. That represents a significant step forward in Wright’s surgery-laden comeback attempt, though he still has a long way to go before returning to the majors.
“I feel like there’s a very good chance [of Wright reaching the bigs] now,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s got to really buy in and believe he feels good every single day. We’ll lean on him a lot for his feedback. He’s the only one that really, truly knows his body, with everything that’s been going on for him the past few years. I know that he’s going to do everything he can and push through everything he feels like he can push through to try to get back.”
Wright has been about this close before. Last August, more than a year removed from neck surgery and right before his shoulder and back operations, he began a rehab assignment with St. Lucie but was shut down after three games. He hasn’t played in the majors since May 27, 2016.
The Mets are rooting for this time to be different. Wright has been working out at the Mets’ Port St. Lucie complex for more than a month, ramping up his baseball activity under the supervision of the club’s player development and scouting personnel.
Callaway said that before Wright was cleared for a rehab assignment, “a lot of people just wanted to get their eyes on him.” Recently, that included two higher-profile visitors to the Mets’ minor-league complex: chief executive officer Fred Wilpon and special assistant to the general manager Omar Minaya.
“Everybody really felt confident that he’s in a really good spot to go out there and compete in a game,” Callaway said. “And here he is.”
The timing of Wright’s rehab assignment is coincidental, Callaway said, but it’s also convenient. He will be able to spend the maximum 20 days in the minors before the minor-league season ends in early September. Had the assignment started any later, Wright would have been at risk of not being offered the full term.
Throwing, among Wright’s foremost on-field problems as he has dealt with spinal stenosis in recent years, remains a work in progress.
“His throwing is doing OK,” said Callaway, noting that for now, Wright will play only third base. “He doesn’t have the best arm strength in the world at this point, but his accuracy seems to be good. He’s had some significant shoulder problems, has some hurdles there. But fielding the ball and throwing it from third has been fine in practice.”
News of Wright’s progress was well received in the Mets’ clubhouse by Jose Reyes. “It’s real,” he said. “I can’t wait for that moment, just to see him play again. Hopefully we’ll see him soon.”
Reyes said he thinks “every day” about manning the left side of the infield again with Wright, something they haven’t done since Sept. 28, 2011. Locker neighbors at Citi Field, the two discussed the possibility when Wright’s rehab was based in New York.
“It would be my highlight of this year if that happens,” Reyes said. “It’s going to be — I don’t want to say hard to believe, but when I left New York [as a free agent after the 2011 season], I never thought I’d share the same field with David Wright again. If that happens, it’s going to be awesome.”