DENVER — David Wright is not done. The Mets third baseman, who has not played in a game in over a year, has finished his rehab work with an orthopedic specialist and began “light baseball activities” Tuesday, assistant GM John Ricco announced Wednesday before the Mets’ game at Coors Field.
With 57 games left in the season after Wednesday night’s game, there is no real sense that the Mets expect their captain will make a return in 2017.
“Like I said, given how long it’s been, I think we’re just going to take it a day at a time,” Ricco said. “I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead, see how it goes the next few days a week.”
Wright could conceivably work his way through a spring training like ramp-up without any setbacks and make it back before the Oct. 1 season-finale.
But like the rest of the Mets’ season right now, the importance of this step in his rehab – and it is important – is more about the Mets preparing for 2018.
Like bringing up Amed Rosario to watch him play for the next two months and get a grasp on what he will be able to handle next season, the Mets need to have a good idea if they will have Wright in any capacity next year as well.
Or do they have to go out and find a new third baseman via free agency, trade, make a pitch to Asdrubal Cabrera to pick up his option for 2018 and keep him as a third baseman or turn the position over to Wilmer Flores or T.J. Rivera, if he is healthy.
For the last year, the Mets have been in limbo at third base. Jose Reyes never got comfortable at the position and the Mets have had to improvise there all year.
Heading into 2018, the Mets need to commit more to their infield defense and be better prepared at third base.
And that starts with knowing exactly what they can expect from Wright before they get to spring training.
Wright, who is signed through 2020, is owed $ 47 million after this season. The Mets’ insurance on that contract has reportedly covered 75% of his salary during the time he has been on the disabled list. So with no third base prospect in their system and the financial cover of insurance, the Mets have had some time to give Wright a chance to work his way through this.
But this offseason, they need to be more sure of where they are heading.
He last played in a major league game on May 27, 2016 and has made at least two attempts to get back that have been stopped by shoulder issues related to the neck surgery.
Throwing has been the big hurdle for him in this rehab.
Wright is starting with fielding drills of ground balls right to him, hitting off a tee and playing catch. It is the first time the 34-year-old has thrown in “quite a while,” Ricco said.
It was throwing that proved to be too much for Wright, who is dealing with a serious spinal degenerative issue and is still trying to come back after June 2016 surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. Wright tried throwing for the first time in eight months during spring training, but was shut down a week into that attempt with discomfort and weakness.
That eventually forced Wright back out to California, where he worked with orthopedic surgeon Robert Watkins and his staff. They were the medical team that got him back for the 2015 playoffs after he had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Watkins also performed the neck surgery on him in 2016.
The Mets are very cautious in their optimism when it comes to Wright.
“He played catch yesterday and today,” Ricco said. “Been a little while. He’s been out in California for quite some time, so he’s just getting himself back in shape.”
It was a first step for Wright this week, but an important one for the Mets going forward.
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