David Wright: This could be my last chance at Mets comeback

David Wright: This could be my last chance at Mets comeback

PORT ST. LUCIE — David Wright has avoided retirement talk for his two-plus years trying to return to the Mets, but even he admits there are only so many times he can attempt a comeback.

And last call could be this latest minor league rehab assignment, which continued Monday night when Wright started a second straight game at third base for High-A St. Lucie.

Wright’s goal is to play for the Mets before this season concludes. But if that doesn’t happen, Wright isn’t so sure he will be in spring training to try again in 2019.

“There will certainly be some things to think about,” Wright told The Post in a sit-down interview at First Data Field, where he went 0-for-1 with a walk in five innings. “I haven’t quite thought that far. My goal is certainly to make it back, and if it doesn’t work out … at some point you have got to play. You can’t just continue to sit here and rehab all year.

“I haven’t thought much about it, but since I have been in the big leagues it’s been over two years, so at some point if physically I can do it, great, and if physically I can’t, that’s a whole different conversation.”

The 35-year-old Mets captain last played in a major league game in May 2016 and has since undergone three surgeries. On top of rehabbing from the surgeries, Wright continues to manage spinal stenosis, a chronic condition in his back.

After six weeks of baseball activities that began in early July, he was cleared over the weekend to play in his first minor league rehab games in nearly a year. Wright’s last comeback dream was dashed in August 2017, when he needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. A month later he had surgery to alleviate pressure in his lower back.

David WrightMike Puma

Wright, who has about $33 million remaining on the eight-year contract he signed following the 2012 season, was asked if this comeback — which is beating the clock on the minor league season’s expiration in a few weeks — is a Hail Mary pass of sorts.

“I don’t know,” Wright said. “It got to the point for me at least there was nothing more to do rehab-wise, and now it’s, ‘Let’s test it out and see how it goes.’

“I wish I knew the answer to the outcome, how it’s going to turn out, but you have got to jump in at some point and swim, and we checked all the boxes from the baseball standpoint, the rehab stuff, so why not try the game and see how my body responds?”

Wright freely admits his arm is a concern. That was on display in the first inning Monday, when he fielded a grounder and stepped on third for the force but unloaded a weak throw to first that just missed completing a double play.

After undergoing surgery in June 2016 to repair a herniated disk in his neck, Wright says his arm strength never returned.

“I certainly don’t feel like I felt when I was healthy,” Wright said. “I think that neck surgery really took something out of me. Where I had my fusion from my neck, there’s a really important nerve that goes into my right shoulder that had to be manipulated to get to the spot they want it to get to. I can remember after that surgery just the atrophy of my right shoulder, and it’s been a real challenge to get that arm strength back.

“But if I can be accurate and I can pick it up a little more — I never had a great arm to begin with — if I can get back to just an average arm, I think that will play.”

Wright played five innings in each of his first two games — he is a combined 0-for-4 at the plate with three strikeouts — and is scheduled to rest Tuesday before resuming his quest the following day.

“Some days it’s probably more work getting ready for the game than it is actually playing the game,” Wright said. “So I have really learned that I used to just push it, and now I have to be smarter about when to just push it and when to say my body is telling me something, and I have got to take it a little slower.

“For me, I have got to listen to what it’s saying and continue to progress. I was going to say it’s like spring training, but it’s not even spring training. It’s longer. I haven’t played baseball in instead of four months it’s 12 months.”

David Wright will begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday

David Wright will begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday

Mets third baseman David Wright is poised to begin a rehab assignment with High-A Lucie, the team announced Saturday. It hasn’t been two weeks since club GM John Ricco said the infielder was “coming up against the clock” in order to play this season, and while there still doesn’t appear to be a definite timetable for his return to the majors, it’s a big step forward as he looks to resume his pro ball career.

Wright, 35, hasn’t played in a major league game since May 2016 and hasn’t appeared at any level of professional baseball since last August. His injuries have been numerous and varied; in the years following his final game in the majors, he’s suffered multiple back, shoulder, and neck issues and undergone neck surgery, right rotator cuff surgery, and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back. He’s been limited in his baseball activities since then, naturally, only taking batting practice and fielding grounders on a few occasions at Citi Field, and finally appears healthy enough to take the next step in his recovery process.

Of course, there’s no way to guarantee that future injuries aren’t in Wright’s future or that he’ll make it back to the majors anytime soon — let alone return to the .300+ average, 30+ homers, and 100+ RBI he posted in his prime. For now, he’ll work on making smaller gains, starting with the five innings he’s scheduled to play during High-A Lucie’s match against the Phillies’ Clearwater Threshers on Sunday.

Mets' David Wright: Fields grounders Sunday

Mets' David Wright: Fields grounders Sunday

Wright (shoulder) was able to field grounders Sunday, but didn’t do any throwing, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports.

Wright resumed baseball activities by playing light catch Thursday and will gradually build up the intensity of his rehab program in the weeks to follow. The Mets are still viewing Wright as out indefinitely, but if the veteran third baseman endures no setbacks with his back or shoulder while ramping up again, a target date for his return from the 60-day disabled list should come into focus once he’s ready to begin a rehab assignment. With Wright more than two years removed from his last MLB action, the Mets likely won’t be counting on the 35-year-old to offer any noteworthy on-field contribution in 2018.

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Mets' David Wright: Scheduled for reevaluation

Mets' David Wright: Scheduled for reevaluation

Wright (shoulder) is scheduled to meet with doctors this week for a reevaluation before the next step in his rehab process is determined, Tim Healey of Newsday reports.

It’s been just over two years since Wright last appeared in an MLB game, but the 35-year-old has yet to consider retirement despite having endured significant shoulder, back and neck injuries over the last few seasons. The health of Wright’s surgically repaired right shoulder is the chief concern at the moment, as the Mets captain has spent the past two months doing strengthening exercises with the hope that doctors will clear him for baseball activities. Even if Wright receives positive news following his checkup, his extended time off likely means that he probably won’t be ready to return from the 60-day disabled list until shortly after the All-Star break, in a best-case scenario. It thus remains more likely than not that Wright won’t suit up for the Mets this season.

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