CINCINNATI — David Wright and Terry Collins last spoke before the ailing Mets captain began his most recent minor-league rehab assignment Aug. 22. Even then, the manager already could hear signs of trouble.
“I sensed the disappointment last week when I talked to him about his shoulder, and how it was bothering him,” Collins said Tuesday. “A little frustrated due to the fact that he had done everything everybody had wanted him to do as far as the rehab and all the exercises and everything else. It just wasn’t bouncing back and you could tell that he was frustrated by it.”
That revelation offered a window into what has been a rocky road for Wright, whose latest rehab attempt was shut down because of shoulder pain. Apparently, it would not subside. Yet Wright played three minor-league games with the condition, including two at third base.
Only on Monday did Wright acknowledge that his banged-up body no longer would let him proceed in his attempt to return before season’s end. Now the 34-year-old awaits a doctor’s appointment this week, after which he must make a decision about what comes next.
Though stepping away hasn’t been stated explicitly as an option for Wright, it’s a concept that hovers over discussions about his future. After this year, Wright will be owed $47 million over the next three years. Insurance would cover much of the salary as long as he’s unable to play.
“Everybody in this room knows him and knows that he put every bit of effort into it to make it work,” Collins said. “I talked to him before yesterday and he decided he couldn’t play yesterday. You salute the fact that he gave it his best shot. We’ll see what the doctor has to say now, and I’m sure David will make the decision that’s in his best interest along with the ballclub.”
Since early in 2015, Wright has been locked in near-constant toil to regain control of his career. First, spinal stenosis sidelined him for much of the Mets’ run to the pennant two years ago. Last season, neck surgery sent him to the shelf for much of the year. In spring training, the aftereffects of that surgery led to shoulder weakness that kept Wright from throwing.
Yet Wright continued the grueling work required to push for a return. That commitment hasn’t been lost upon his friends.
“I feel bad for him,” said Jose Reyes, whose friendship with Wright dates to their earliest days together in the Mets organization. “All the work that he put in not only this year but even two years ago, he’s been doing a lot of rehab. That’s tough when you feel like you’re getting close to getting back to playing baseball and you have another setback. I don’t want to be in his shoes right now. I’m sure he has a lot of stuff going through his head right now. It’s tough, it’s tough. I don’t know how he’s doing it.”
When Reyes rejoined the Mets last season, he hoped for a reunion with Wright on the left side of the infield.
“At least we can start one game together again, him at third base and me at shortstop,” he said. “At this point, it’s hard for that happen.”
The closest they have come was back in spring training, when Wright was limited to DH duty before shoulder problems shut down that rehab attempt.
“I wish all the best for him and whatever decision he needs to make, I’m going to be behind 100 percent,” Reyes said. “If he wants to continue playing, I’m going to be here supporting him in whatever he decides to do. But at the same time, he needs to think about his future and stuff.”