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.
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.”
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