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As 2nd act begins, Wright has more to offer

Longtime Mets captain enjoying being back with team as advisor
@AnthonyDiComo
March 18, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The centerpiece of the Mets' Minor League compound is a grouping of four baseball fields nearly flush with one another. At the point where all four meet stands an elevated platform, which team officials use to gain a vantage on the entire complex. An uneducated

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The centerpiece of the Mets' Minor League compound is a grouping of four baseball fields nearly flush with one another. At the point where all four meet stands an elevated platform, which team officials use to gain a vantage on the entire complex.

An uneducated observer might not have paid heed to the executive perched up there Monday in blue khakis, a golf polo and sunglasses, watching Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard pitch in a Minor League intrasquad game. The only thing separating him from the Mets’ other staffers were clusters of fans who, from time to time, turned around to wave, shout his name or snap pictures.

“It’s a little strange putting on a different uniform,” David Wright said later that day, his first at Mets camp as a former player. “That was the biggest decision I had to make today. I was like, ‘What do I wear?’ I’m so used to just coming in and changing into my uniform.”

In the six months since playing his final, emotional game at Citi Field, Wright has settled into retired life -- sort of. Most days he spends at home in Los Angeles with his wife and two young daughters, though Wright is not entirely just a stay-at-home dad. As a special advisor to the front office and ownership, he has frequently fielded calls from general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, offering his opinion on potential signings and trades. During the Winter Meetings in December, Wright traveled to Las Vegas to aid Van Wagenen in person.

At the time, Wright said he wouldn’t truly feel the effects of retirement until springtime, when he is accustomed to traveling to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training.

Until now, in other words.

“Yeah, I definitely miss playing the game,” Wright said. “I don’t miss the physical aspect of it, but … I miss talking the game. I miss performing. I miss the big at-bat with runners in scoring position. I miss that feeling.”

He laughed.

“But then I look at Jake and Noah out there throwing and it looks pretty firm coming in. I don’t miss the physical aspect of it.”

That aspect is what forced the seven-time All-Star to retire at age 35, appearing in just 77 games over the final four years of his career due to back, neck and shoulder issues. Wright still regularly attends physical therapy sessions and works out at a Los Angeles-area gym, where 35 to 40 minutes of exercise does wonders for his back. For the rest of his life, Wright will battle the effects of spinal stenosis, with which he was first diagnosed in 2015. Traveling to Florida this weekend, Wright said, lounging in an airline seat gave him a stiff neck.

“There’s no way I could play,” Wright quipped. “I can’t even make a plane ride without getting hurt.”

Still, the Mets’ fourth captain and all-time hits leader believes he can contribute value to the franchise in other ways. Just six months removed from being an active player, Wright maintains close relationships with nearly everyone in the home clubhouse. He hopes to give some of them hitting or fielding advice this week. He intends to continue working with Van Wagenen in the future. He may even try his hand at amateur scouting, checking out Draft prospects on the West Coast.

“I enjoy the game,” Wright said. “I really do. Sitting out there watching Jake and Noah this afternoon, I really, really enjoy being part of that -- and not just watching it, but being behind the scenes and seeing what goes on and still spending a lot of time with my family but getting the opportunity to keep my foot in the door with the game and be a part of something, especially with this organization, meant a lot to me. And I jumped at the chance to be able to do that.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.