Wright to sit rest of season due to balky shoulder
Third baseman to rehab for six weeks in hopes of avoiding surgery
NEW YORK -- Back when David Wright initially jammed his left shoulder in June, sliding to second base on a routine play, he never could have envisioned the injury consuming his summer. He never could have imagined sitting at a late-night press conference in the bowels of Citi Field, as he did Tuesday, announcing that he will miss the rest of the season due to "persistent inflammation" in the joint.
"This season," Wright said, "has left a sour taste in my mouth."
With it now officially behind him, Wright will embark on a six-week rehab program, which he hopes will bring his shoulder back to 100 percent, allow him to avoid surgery and to "return to doing what I firmly believe I'm capable of doing on the baseball field."
How much his shoulder woes prevented him from doing that in 2014 is impossible for Wright, the Mets or anyone else to know. But in the midst of his injury, Wright submitted his worst year as a professional, finishing with career lows in on-base percentage (.324), slugging (.374) and home runs (eight). The fact that he managed to appear in 132 games despite his lack of production, general manager Sandy Alderson said, was a testament only to his character.
"David did what captains do," Alderson said. "He persevered. He kept going. He gutted it out. So numbers or no numbers, he did what we expected: he made a major contribution to the team by continuing to perform."
The Mets enabled that by sending Wright to numerous doctor appointments along the way and approving a cortisone injection in July. Hours in the trainer's room allowed Wright to remain on the field, though the third baseman admitted Tuesday that his shoulder discomfort was "pretty constant" throughout the summer.
Despite Wright's injury woes, he never went on the disabled list, instead receiving a cortisone injection in mid-July and playing through the issue. He aimed to continue doing so in September, but began feeling more soreness than usual after Monday's win over the Rockies. That prompted the Mets to send him to Manhattan the following afternoon for testing on the shoulder.
Several hours later, Wright and Alderson made the announcement at Citi Field that he is done for the season.
"We thought it was prudent -- absolutely prudent -- to take this step," Alderson said. "And certainly, David was on board with that."
In Wright's absence, the Mets have several options for the season's final 17 games. They can use Eric Campbell and Josh Satin on a regular basis at third base, replacing Wright with a pair of players accustomed to manning that position. Or, as Alderson discussed late Tuesday night, they can shift starting second baseman Daniel Murphy over to his natural position of third, which he last played regularly in 2011. That would free the Mets up to give 20-year-old prospect Dilson Herrera continued reps at second base, where he started daily while Murphy was on the DL.
Murphy, for his part, said he would be willing to make the switch if the Mets conclude it is in their best interest.
"I'm sure they'll sit down and talk about it," Murphy said. "If they think that moving me over to third base and allowing Dilson … to play second, then I'm all for it. I'll approach it just like I do second base. It's still about winning baseball games."
Even with Wright playing at some fraction of his usual ability this season, the Mets are on pace to win more of those than they have at any point since 2010. Their hope is that a full winter of rest will allow Wright to revert to his All-Star form of previous years, despite entering his age-32 season, putting them in position to vie for a playoff spot in 2015. There is danger there, of course; Wright has missed significant time due to injuries in three of the past four seasons, averaging 126 games per year. But the Mets are committed to him for another six years and $107 million, meaning their future may very well depend on his health.
"You go look at the back of his baseball card, we all know what David Wright can do over the course of a season," Murphy said. "So I think from my perspective, we're excited that he's going to be able to get healthy. That's what we're most looking forward to."