By Zach Gewelb
It’s time for David Wright to hang up his cleats.
Wright has been dealing with spinal stenosis since 2015 and while he has tried to play through it, he’s never been able to find a way to stay on the field. His most recent transgression came last week after he began a rehab assignment with Class-A Port St. Lucie. His assignment lasted just three games before he was shut down with a torn rotator cuff. Surgery will keep him out for the rest of the season and no one knows when Wright could make a return.
But should he even try?
Wright is a broken down player. Even if he were to attempt another comeback, how long would it last before he suffers another setback? Sometimes, athletes are betrayed by their bodies as they hit a certain age. They can’t cut it anymore. This is the case with Wright.
It would make more sense for Wright to attempt a comeback if the Mets were an American League team with the luxury of having a designated hitter. But they’re not, so Wright would have to take the field and his condition makes it tough to play the field, let alone third base, where quick reflexes and agility are required traits for success.
It can’t be easy for Wright to acknowledge he’s finished. But there’s no other option for him. He has three years and $47 million left on his contract and if Wright were to retire, he’d have to forfeit most of that money.
Wright is known to be a great clubhouse presence, but it has to be tough for him to put on a smile around his teammates when he’s been sidelined for the better part of two seasons.
But it seems Wright will give it another go, for better or for worse, according to Mets manager Terry Collins.
“It’s sad to think this guy is one of the best players in the game and has had to miss the amount of time he’s had to miss, with various injuries,” Collins said to reporters. “He just thought he needed to take care of [the shoulder] and get [surgery] so he could get back on the field and continue the process of trying to get back.”
While Wright clearly wants to give it another go, there’s no shame in retiring. He’s had an excellent career and will forever be remembered as one the best Mets players in team history. But Wright — and the Mets — need to move forward. The team can’t count on Wright to be healthy in the future after two years of injuries and setbacks, so it makes little sense to leave a spot on the roster for him.
And if there’s no spot for Wright, it doesn’t really make sense to push himself through another strenuous rehab.
If Wright really wants to stay in the game and be a part of the Mets organization, why not retire and become a coach?
The organization would love to keep him onboard and he’d still be a positive clubhosue presence. He could be an assistant hitting coach to Kevin Long or could possibly do what Alex Rodriguez has for the Yankees.
A-Rod was forced into early retirement, but the Yankees kept him around as an adviser who has been shuttled to the organization’s minor league affiliates, offering tips and advice to the young players.
Wright could do the same type of thing for the Mets. It would be a win-win scenario. It may not be ideal for Wright, but it is the best option for the face of the franchise moving forward and one that would allow him to remain a part of the organization he has been with since 2001.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe