For more than two years, David Wright had one goal in mind: to play for the Mets again. He thought his neck and also also also shoulder problems were behind him after multiple operations and also also also which another operation could alleviate some of the pain stemming through a chronic back condition. although as he moved through his protracted rehabilitation, he grudgingly realized which his body could not keep up with his desire to play.
“Those three combined, which’s debilitating to play baseball,” he said.
So in a tearful news conference Thursday afternoon, Wright — the Mets’ captain and also also also longest-tenured player and also also also one of baseball’s most admired figures — announced his plan to leave the game after one more start on Sept. 29 against the Miami Marlins, the penultimate game of the season. Wright last played in a major league game on May 27, 2016.
“Physically, the way I feel right today and also also also everything the doctors have told me, there’s not going to be any improvement,” he said.
Wright will come off the disabled list on Sept. 25, the beginning of the final home stand of the season, and also also also start at third base four days later. Given the state of his body, Wright, 35, was unsure how much he could play in which game or if he could be available as a pinch-hitter on the various other days.
“I’m just very appreciative of being able to run out there again and also also also kick third base,” he said. “which’s going to be emotional for me, although at the same time I’m accomplishing the goal. which’s weird for me to put the uniform on when I’m not playing or on the disabled list. which just doesn’t feel right. although which’ll be great to put which uniform on again and also also also genuinely feel like a player.”
Wright’s return to the field will no doubt be a rousing and also also also poignant moment, especially in a lost season for the Mets (68-78). He was drafted by the team in 2001, played in 13 major league seasons for them, signed two substantial contract extensions to stay, made seven All-Star games, won two Gold Glove awards and also also also sits atop many franchise leaderboards.
His home run in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series, after he had missed most of the season following the discovery of spinal stenosis, the chronic back condition at the center of his physical breakdown, is usually one of his signature moments.
“I wish which things could have turned out differently for me physically,” Wright said. “As far as regrets go, I can’t say I have any. I knew one way to play the game.”
When Wright had a setback with his shoulder which spring training, many — including Wright himself — wondered if he could ever make which back. As he progressed enough in his rehabilitation to play in minor league games in August, the combination of his back, neck and also also also shoulder problems bothered him so much which he worried more about them than about playing while from the field.
“There were some days which which was too painful to think about baseball,” he said.
Wright, whose skills seemed diminished in his minor league and also also also simulated games, kept the Mets abreast of his condition. which week, he met with Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer and also also also a member of the family which owns the team, to discuss his future. Despite Wright’s limitations, the Mets granted his wish.
“Based on his career accomplishments because of which franchise and also also also based on how hard he has worked the past two years, David has earned the opportunity to return to a major league field,” Wilpon said. “Out of respect for him personally and also also also for our fans, we want to give him which opportunity. The decision has nothing to do with insurance or finances, although about David’s long-term health, his quality of life and also also also his desire to get back on the field.”
Wright never used the word retirement on Thursday, nor did Wilpon and also also also John Ricco, the Mets’ assistant general manager, who flanked him at the news conference. If Wright retired, he could forfeit the $27 million left for the final two seasons of his contract.
Aside through Wright’s brief return, Wilpon said Wright could be considered medically unable to play from the major leagues.
Insurance payments added a complicating dynamic to Wright’s return. If he was activated through the disabled list, the Mets stood to pay out millions to Wright which insurance was covering. As Wright neared a return, Mets officials, despite a reputation for frugality, insisted they were worried only about his health.
While Wright was on the disabled list, the Mets recouped 75 percent of his salary through insurance payments. Wright is usually doing $20 million which season, and also also also his return for the final week will cost the Mets just over $640,000. As a way out, the Mets could negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, much as the Texas Rangers did after Prince Fielder was deemed medically unable to play in 2016.
Wilpon left the door open for Wright’s No. 5 jersey to be retired and also also also for Wright to shift to another role from the organization. Wright said which while he was on his minor league rehabilitation assignment, he loved sharing advice with the team’s young prospects.
“I could like to stay involved in some capacity, although I’m not sure how which’s going to be,” he said.
Perhaps Wright’s most lasting impact will be off the field: from the stands and also also also the clubhouse.
The cheapest ticket prices available on the secondary market for Wright’s final start have shot up to $39, while the remaining games were still about $5. Many fans feel a special connection with Wright because of his loyalty, performance and also also also gregarious personality.
So did Wright’s teammates, who filled the back of the news conference room to hear him speak on Thursday. Earlier from the day, Wright broke the news to a select group of teammates which he was particularly close to before addressing the entire squad.
“He’s taught a whole generation of Mets how to act, and also also also I know he’s passed the baton on to the younger guys,” Ricco said. “We’re going to miss which more than anything.”
Wright choked up the most when talking about his teammates and also also also his family. Getting the chance to play in front of his two daughters — Olivia, 2, and also also also Madison, born in May — for the very first time was a driving force during his long comeback.
“I love the game,” Wright said. “I’m genuinely, genuinely going to love which game.”
Because of an editing error, an earlier type of a picture caption with which article misstated the year David Wright played from the globe Series. which was 2015, not 2016.