PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — David Wright’s comeback attempt has suffered another setback.
The Mets’ third baseman, captain and face of the franchise will wait at least eight weeks before starting baseball activity again. He is still dealing with shoulder and lower back issues and was re-examined Monday by Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist, in Los Angeles.
This is the latest in a series of health-related blows for Wright, who last month acknowledged that his health might force him to retire.
“When it’s all said and done, I want me to be able to say I did everything I could,” he said. “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.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said it was not anything in particular that triggered this shutdown. But Wright’s symptoms were not getting better, so he didn’t have much of a choice.
“It’s a tough road. It’s been a long time for him,” Callaway said. “He wants to be out there so bad — for the team, for the Mets, for the fans — and it’s tough. I think we all feel for him.”
Wright, 35, has not played in a game since May 2016 and has played in only 75 games since early September 2014. In addition to dealing with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine that puts pressure on nerves in the spine, Wright had neck surgery in June 2016, shoulder surgery last September and back surgery last October.
He has not participated in baseball activities this spring, instead working on building his strength back up.
Callaway said, though, that he and the coaching staff treat Wright like any other player in camp, albeit one who hasn’t been on the field. When the coaches talk to veteran players, Wright is included. As the team’s first-year manager, Callaway has sought Wright’s opinion.
“We want him around as much as possible,” Callaway said. “I’ve asked him questions and still want him to lead.”
Knowing Wright’s health situation, the Mets signed third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year, $17-million contract last month. At $20 million, Wright is the Mets’ third highest paid player this season. He is due $47 million through 2020. The Mets have an insurance policy to cover most of that cost when he is injured.
In 13 major league seasons, Wright has a .296 average with a .376 OBP and .491 slugging percentage, plus 242 homers, 970 RBIs and 196 steals.
Jose Reyes, who was Wright’s partner on the left side of the infield from 2004-11, has said he wants to play at least one more game with Wright at third and himself at shortstop, just like the good old days.
“That is sad news for him, for Mets fans and for us, too. We want to see David on the field,” Reyes said. “You feel bad for the guy, because he’s hard working and he wants to continue to do what he loves to do.”
Noah Syndergaard had a more optimistic take.
“It’s definitely tough watching,” Syndergaard said. “But it’s also impressive, just being able to see the positivity and his overall outlook on things. He continues to come in each and every day with a smile and he’s still got that veteran leadership. He’s still a great presence to have in the clubhouse.”