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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Only David Wright can say when it’s time for him to retire

David Wright of the Mets looks on against the

David Wright of the Mets looks on against the Phillies at Citi Field on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

You know you’ve thought it. Maybe you’ve posted it as a comment on a Mets story or grumbled it to your buddies at the bar.

“David Wright should just retire already.”

There’s one person who hasn’t had that thought yet. Or if he has, he’s dismissed it. That guy is David Wright. The one person whose opinion counts on this matter.

It’s still a longshot, but here’s something you might hear at Citi Field before this season ends:

“Now batting for the Mets, No. 5, David Wright.”

The Mets announced on Tuesday afternoon that Wright would be the designated hitter for Single-A St. Lucie on Tuesday night in Port Charlotte, Florida, in his first game action of 2017. Wright went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

The Mets captain has not played in a big-league game since May 27, 2016.

If Wright walks back into the Mets clubhouse . . .

“It would be great,” Michael Conforto said. “It would be awesome, especially with all the veteran guys that have gotten traded away. It would be nice to have him back. We’re all definitely pulling for him with all how hard he’s worked to get back. We’ve all seen it.”

Why does he keep at it? Wright had made nearly $100 million in salary. Why doesn’t he just give in to the various physical ailments, most notably the spinal stenosis in his back, that have put his career in jeopardy since April 2015?

Because that’s not what athletes do. They try to squeeze every ounce out of their bodies until there isn’t an ounce left. Wright is 34 and has been dealing with goodness knows how much pain and discomfort for the last two-plus years. But he’s not ready to give up.

Good for him.

Now, it may not be good for the Mets from a planning sense, from a cold-and-calculating dollars and cents sense. Wright is due $47 million over the next three seasons.

But David Wright has given his professional life to this organization. He has been the face of the franchise when they didn’t deserve to have a face. He has lived through the dark times, the heady times of the World Series run in 2015, and he has always been the same stand-up guy, even when it was probably difficult for him to stand up.

Even if he returns, Wright might not be able to play the field because of a shoulder condition that sidelined him starting in spring training.

But a pinch hitter doesn’t have to throw. Neither does a DH. And the Mets have three games left at an American League park – Sept. 1-3 at Houston – that just happens to begin when rosters expand.

If that’s too soon, then Wright can return as a pinch hitter sometime in September.

“That’s on the table,” manager Terry Collins said. “I just think it’s exciting to think that, going through what he’s had to go through for the last year and a half, that he’s going to attempt it. There’s certainly a scenario where we don’t have to worry about him playing defense.”

If it feels like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. On Aug. 10, 2015, Wright began a rehab assignment for St. Lucie. He hadn’t played since April 14 after he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.

Wright made it back on Aug. 24 and played every inning of all 14 postseason games as the Mets made a glorious run to the World Series.

He played in 36 games last season before shutting it down following a 6-5 win over the Dodgers at Citi Field in which Wright went 1-for-4 with the 242nd home run of his career.

No one knew on that late May day that it might have been the last home run and big-league game of Wright’s career. We may know that soon enough if this St. Lucie sojourn doesn’t go well.

Or Wright could try again next spring. After all, he’s got rest of his life to be retired. And it’s his life. No one else’s.

New York Sports