MIAMI — David Wright is ready to give the comeback trail another try.
The Mets captain — who last appeared in a major league game in May 2016 — will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday, with five innings at third base for Single-A St. Lucie at Clearwater, the team announced.
Wright had been working out at the team’s minor league complex in Port St. Lucie for the past several weeks.
“I think a lot of people just want to get their eyes on him and see how the ball is coming off his bat, how he was moving around at third, how he was throwing the ball,” manager Mickey Callaway said Saturday before the Mets faced the Marlins. “Everybody really felt confident that he was in a really good spot to go out and compete in a game.”
Wright’s last minor league rehab assignment ended in disappointment in August 2017, when he was shut down from baseball activities to undergo surgery for a torn rotator cuff. Wright underwent subsequent surgery to alleviate the pressure on his lower back.
The 35-year-old third baseman was diagnosed with spinal stenosis during the 2015 season. Wright is still managing the ailment and needs extensive pregame conditioning just to prepare for baseball activities on a daily basis.
Wright’s longtime teammate Jose Reyes said it’s “unbelievable” his friend is still attempting a comeback.
“But he has been a hard worker since Day 1, from the beginning,” said Reyes, who arrived to the Mets in 2003, one season before Wright. “He wants to do everything he can to come back and play the game that he loves and I respect that from him. He should be an example for the young players: Everything is possible.”
Wright is signed through 2020 to a contract that will pay him roughly another $33 million before it concludes. The Mets have an insurance policy that has been reimbursing the team 75 percent of Wright’s salary while he is on the disabled list. The team first began collecting on the insurance policy in 2015, when Wright missed most of the season rehabbing from spinal stenosis. Wright returned from 3 ¹/₂ months on the disabled list that year and was part of the team’s NL pennant surge. He played only 37 games the following season before hitting the DL.
The biggest obstacle Wright might face is throwing the ball from third base. In addition to the rotator cuff surgery last year, Wright had a herniated disk in his neck repaired in 2016.
“His throwing is doing OK,” Callaway said. “He doesn’t have the best arm strength in the world at this point, but his accuracy seems to be good. He’s had some significant shoulder problems and had some hurdles there, but releasing the ball — fielding and releasing the ball, throwing from third, has been fine in practice.”
Wright’s ultimate goal is returning to the Mets before the season concludes. The minor league season finishes in about three weeks, conceivably enough time for Wright to have a full “spring training” of sorts.
Reyes, who is yet to play with Wright since returning to the organization in 2016, says he’s dreamed of one more game side by side with his friend.
“He is a legend for this organization and the fan base and everybody is pulling for him,” Reyes said. “Everybody knows what he has been through for the last two or three years, so to see him coming back after almost three years of rehab, that is unbelievable.”
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