Wright on role with Mets: 'It's perfect for me'

March 11th, 2020

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Unwilling to miss his 3-year-old daughter’s T-ball parade and picture day, David Wright delayed his flight to Spring Training a little longer this year, taking a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Florida on Sunday. Such is the balance that Wright, now a year and a half removed from his final big league game, seeks to strike in retirement.

In his new role, Wright has taken to walking around Mets camp in khakis and a polo shirt. Gone are the years when the Mets’ last captain would be a constant presence in the clubhouse, in uniform. These days, Wright hangs around the team a few times per year, including one week each Spring Training. He lounges as much as possible with old teammates, some of whom remain his best friends. He hangs with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon. Then he returns home to his family.

“For what I’m looking for at this stage, it’s perfect for me,” Wright said. “Brodie and his staff have been outstanding in kind of allowing me to kind of come and go as my schedule dictates, which I’m appreciative of. But coming down here gets the juices flowing again. It’s like I’m away for enough time to really start missing it.”

One of the most decorated players in franchise history, Wright played 14 seasons with the Mets, retiring as their all-time leader in hits, doubles, runs scored and RBIs, among other categories. Back, neck and shoulder issues began derailing his career in 2015, and Wright spent years rehabbing in an attempt to make it back to the field. He did, but only briefly, appearing in two games during the Mets’ final series in '18.

When Wright did not report to Spring Training for the first time the following spring, the feeling was strange for him. But he has since settled into a routine, joining the Mets at the Winter Meetings, the GM Meetings, Spring Training and at various points throughout the summer. In that role, Wright offers Van Wagenen advice on potential free-agent or trade targets. Wright helped brainstorm the format for Jacob deGrom’s five-year, $137.5 million contract. On Wednesday, Wright spoke to a group of Minor League players and coaches in camp.

“It just brought back that competitive fire that you miss when you’re away from it,” Wright said of that experience. “Just when you really start really, really missing it, you get to come back and be around the guys and talk baseball, which I love.”

Wright also enjoys the ability to come and go at his leisure. Since retiring, he has eschewed more full-time coaching or television opportunities, preferring to spend time with his wife and two young daughters, ages 3 and 1. He still does physical therapy for his back on a daily basis, and he expects to for the rest of his life, but the grind is easier to handle since he’s no longer training as a professional athlete.

Perhaps one day, baseball will draw Wright back on a more permanent basis, but he’s nowhere near that point right now.

“I get a taste of it, and then I get to go be a dad,” Wright said. “And then once I really start missing it, I get a chance to kind of come back and whet the appetite.”