Wright plays 3rd for 5 innings in rehab game

Mets captain goes 0-for-3 in first pro game since 2017

August 12th, 2018
New York Mets David Wright looks on during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, June 25, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)Adam Hunger/AP

took his most significant step in his attempted comeback from injuries that have sidelined him for the better part of more than two seasons on Sunday, as the 35-year-old third baseman began a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Wright went 0-for-3 and played third for five innings in a road game against Clearwater.

Batting third in the order, Wright struck out looking in the first inning, struck out swinging in the third and flied out to left in the sixth against Clearwater starter Mauricio Llovera, the flamethrowing Phillies prospect.

"It felt good to get back out there," Wright said, per SNY. "Hopefully, the results will come. But, for now, getting three at-bats, I went out and played the field for five innings, seeing some pitches, seeing some really dominant pitching. It's not ideal to go out there and see 96, 97 [mph] in your first game in a year. So it was good to be challenged like that early. ... Getting to see a young arm like that that's live, you can't mimic that by practicing. You have to go out there and see it.

"[I played the field for] five innings, [so] I was keeping track. But I didn't even realize that [my turn in the order was coming up in] the sixth, so I kind of figured, 'Why not?' That last at-bat [in the sixth] was my best at-bat. So I'm glad I got it, because I've got something to build on."

Wright also fielded a high popout in the fourth, battling the sun to make the catch.

"[It was a] day game, and I forgot my sunglasses -- so I was out there and really nervous when the ball started going in the air. It was good to track it a little bit and start moving around," Wright said. "Now, we just need some ground balls. Certainly, in my mind at least, a good day and kind of a baby step in the right direction."

Wright said the next steps in his rehab will be mapped out over the coming days, but he hopes to work his way back into more games during the club's four-game homestand this week against Florida. St. Lucie's next scheduled off-day isn't until Aug. 20.

"What I've kind of realized these last two months of this baseball rehab stuff is that I certainly need off-days periodically -- and we're going to look at that when we start scheduling for the next week or so," Wright said. "Everybody wants to go get hits and make all the plays in the field and everything. I think, for me, I have to really not necessarily temper expectations but be realistic about the process, and to make sure that I do the work behind the scenes -- and hopefully go back in there and start seeing the results as we get further along in this rehab."

Sunday marked Wright's first professional game since Aug. 26, 2017. He last played in a Major League game on May 27, 2016. That lengthy stretch has been marred by significant injuries to Wright's back, shoulder and neck that cast doubt as to whether the seven-time All-Star would ever make it back to the diamond. Mets manager Mickey Callaway indicated on Saturday that Wright reaching a rehab assignment was the most concrete proof the veteran, who has spent his entire career with the Mets, could make a Major League return.

"Once guys are in rehab games, then anything is possible," Callaway said on Saturday. "They are on the right track to getting back here and helping us out. I feel that there's a very good chance now."

Wright has widely been viewed as one of the best position players in franchise history. He was drafted by the club in the first round in 2001, and he is the club's all-time leader in hits (1,777), RBIs (970) and runs scored (949). His 242 career homers place him behind only Darryl Strawberry (252) on the franchise's all-time home run leaderboard.

The Mets are mired in fourth place in a season that's been marred by injuries and inconsistencies. The return of a longtime stalwart to the franchise when rosters expand in September would be a positive for a club that will head into the offseason facing uncertainty -- most specifically relating to the front office.

"I wouldn't be out here in 95-degree sunny Florida dripping sweat if I didn't think that I could make it back," Wright said. "But a lot of it's going to [involve my] results down here. In order to go up there and try to help those guys, I'm going to have to show that I can be productive and go out there and kind of be counted on to get some hits and make the plays."

Callaway sounded cautiously optimistic after Wright's outing.

"[Wright] came out of [the game] feeling really good," said Callaway. "We're going to evaluate when he comes in [on Monday] and see what the next step is."