Wright 'really confident' neck, back will be healthy

October 6th, 2016
"I just want to give myself the chance to go out there and play baseball, be healthy," said David Wright. (AP)

NEW YORK -- A small scar is still visible on 's neck, the product of the cervical discectomy and fusion he underwent June 16. In every other way, Wright appears in normal health.

But because Wright missed roughly four months of the season for the second consecutive year, questions linger about his ability to be productive for the Mets again. He will enter next Spring Training at age 34, having played 75 games over the past two seasons combined.

"It's a fair question, and I think my mindset is to go out there and do what I'm capable of doing," Wright said in the aftermath of the Mets' 3-0 loss to the Giants in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night at Citi Field. "We'll see when things start up. I can do as much in the offseason to get ready for Spring Training as I can.

"Once Spring Training comes, you start getting in those live situations, those game situations, you just don't know how things are going to react. But I'm really positive and I'm really confident that this neck surgery's going to hold up. I'm confident that my back's going to hold up. And we go from there."

:: NL Wild Card: Giants vs. Mets coverage ::

Wright, who has limited his physical activity to walking since the surgery, still has many obstacles ahead of him. In the weeks following his surgery, Wright lost significant weight, unable to eat regularly or perform simple tasks such as shaving. When Wright visited the Mets, he initially watched games from the bullpen, fearful of errant foul balls or even overzealous back-slaps in the dugout. Doctors recommended he lift his infant baby as little as possible.

But Wright has since gained strength, and believes he is on track to be ready for Spring Training. Now living full-time in Southern California, Wright goes for regular checkups with his spinal specialist, Dr. Robert Watkins. A significant milestone will occur in December, when Wright hopes Dr. Watkins will clear him for baseball activities.

At that time, Wright may also be able to resume maintenance exercises for his back, which will remain an issue for the rest of his career. Because of his neck surgery, Wright has not been able to perform a regular physical therapy routine to combat his spinal stenosis condition.

"It's probably not ideal, but it's what I've got," Wright said of his plan.

The Mets have a vested interest in Wright's progress, considering they still owe him $67 million over the next four seasons. Though the team recouped much of Wright's 2015-16 salaries due to an insurance policy, they miss their captain's daily presence inside their clubhouse.

Still, it is a tricky situation for the Mets and their onetime superstar slugger. A seven-time NL All-Star from 2006-13, Wright has suffered significant injuries in each of the past four seasons, and five of the past six. When healthy, he has been somewhat productive, but even Wright admits it will be difficult to remain healthy going forward.

To that end, Wright said he is not considering a position switch, believing first base to be just as physically demanding as third. All Wright can do is continue his rehab, work as hard as possible, and hope that's enough.

"I just want to give myself the chance to go out there and play baseball, be healthy," Wright said. "That's the biggest thing. Because you don't know what you can go out there and do until you can be healthy and go out there and do it for more than 30 games. And I haven't been able to do it for the last couple years. So hopefully next year is different."