Following David Wright’s latest injury, the New York Mets’ third baseman and team captain continues to reassure that his days as a productive and healthy player are done.
A herniated disc in Wright’s neck forced him onto the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 30. The ailment will sideline him from any baseball activities for six to eight weeks. If he manages to heal in that timespan and complete a rehab assignment in the minors, Wright could miss over two months of action.
That’s nothing new to Wright or the Mets, as he’s found himself in the doctor’s office more often than third base since 2011.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 3, 2016
Before his current injury, Wright wasn’t hitting well — evidenced by his 0.226/0.350/0.438 batting line. He was also striking out at a prolific rate, whiffing 55 times in 137 at-bats. Also, his chronic spinal stenosis — a condition he was diagnosed with last season — has bothered him to some degree throughout the year. The Mets were giving Wright periodic days off in hopes of managing the condition.
At this point, even Mets’ manager Terry Collins realizes that the former seven-time All-Star is no longer that type of player.
“This guy has been a special player in baseball,” Collins said to reporters, including ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, last Tuesday. “Certainly being the captain and the face of this organization, a manager’s worst nightmare is to see a star start to fade.”
— MLB (@MLB) May 30, 2016
Wright, 33, has not played in a full season since his 134-game campaign in 2014. Yet, injuries severely limited his production as he swatted just eight home runs and hit 0.269/0.324/0.374 that year. A shoulder injury plagued him the entire season and he was eventually shut down in September.
The year prior, despite posting a productive 0.307/0.390/0.514 line and making the All-Star team, the Norfolk, Virginia native missed time with a strained hamstring. Wright was named team captain that year, joining the likes of Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and John Franco to hold that honor.
In 2012, Wright had one of his better seasons, playing in 156 out of 162 games while hitting 21 HR, driving in 93 runs and hitting 0.306/0.391/0.492. The Mets signed him to a 7-year, $138 million contract after that season concluded.
However, the year prior is where Wright’s injuries and their current severity may have been born.
A stress fracture in Wright’s lower back caused him to miss two months of action in 2011. Dr. Chris McKenzie, a board- certified physical therapist and adjunct professor at Drexel University explained to Newsday last year that all of Wright’s injuries, such as the stress fracture and hamstring injuries are related to the spinal stenosis because the condition “often comes with lower-body issues.”
It has been a frustrating process for the former two-time Gold Glove award winner at third base. Once considered as the present and future of the team, injuries have not allowed Wright to expand on the tremendous start of his career. From 2005-2010, Wright averaged 25 HR and 104 RBIs while being a 0.307/0.386/0.514 hitter.
Despite the injuries, Wright has attained several Mets all-time records. He’s the franchise leader in runs scored (910), hits (1,713), total bases (2,665), doubles (375), RBIs (943), walks (715), and strikeouts (1,206). He’s also just 10 HR behind Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record (252).
David Wright now has 86 career go-ahead homers, breaking a tie with Darryl Strawberry for most in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/gpWXYuE6qH
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) May 24, 2016
“I’d rather be talked to like a baseball player, not a patient at a therapy clinic,” Wright said to MLB.com last year as he was working his way back from spinal stenosis.
“It’s been nice to start getting in the grind again and start thinking about baseball and talking shop with the coaches and guys, rather than being secluded in the training room or a therapy table getting worked on.”
Collins, who has managed Wright since 2011, has seen both the healthy and rehabbing versions of Wright.
After this season, Wright is still under contract for four more seasons. He will make $20 million a season through 2018, then $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020. Mets officials, fans, and Collins hope their team captain can find a way to manage his balky back and avoid missing significant time in the future.
“I think David’s got a lot of baseball left in him because of the way he prepares and the way he gets himself ready. But it’s hard to watch what he’s going through… as good as he was. I’ll tell you: There’s a lot of guys in this room that would not do what he does every day just to get ready to go play a baseball game. He’s still special. He’s still a great player.”
Since 2011, 18 different players have appeared at the hot corner for the Mets, per Ultimate Mets. With Wright set to miss at least two months, the Mets are likely going to scour the market for upgrades at the position once again.
[Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images]