Posted on September 13, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
This isn’t the way anyone would have wanted it to end, but New York Mets captain David Wright will get one last chance to play in a major league game before his career comes to an end. The Mets announced on Thursday that Wright will be activated from the DL on September 25, more than two years since he last played a big league game. Wright will start the penultimate game of the season on September 29 at third base in what will be the final game of his big league career.
The word retirement wasn’t specifically used by Wright or Mets owner Jeff Wilpon at Thursday’s press conference. However, it’s clear that Wright is physically unable to perform at the major league level because of his neck, back, and shoulder issues that have kept him sidelined since he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2015.
“The way I feel right now and from everything the doctors have told me, there’s not going to be an improvement,” Wright said when asked about trying to play in 2019 and beyond. “I don’t see that as a possibility.”
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Wright has not played in a big league game since May 2016. Since then, the now 35-year old has endured a grueling rehab process. He managed to play three minor league rehab games in 2017 and progressed enough to once again play in minor league games last month. Despite profound effort on Wright’s part to play those rehab games, they have helped him realize that he won’t be able to physically continue playing the game. However, the Mets will give him the opportunity to return to the field one last time, making all of his rehab work the last three years worthwhile.
“I’ve been wearing this uniform or something similar for half my life now,” Wright said. “That’s an honor that I take a lot of pride in.”
Wright was understandably emotional when discussing his comeback efforts and the inevitable end of his career. He says he’s been pushed by his love for the game and his desire to have his two daughters see him play. Wright’s daughters have both been born in the time since his last big league appearance. However, his body has made it clear that continuing to play baseball is not in his future.
“When I really started ramping up baseball stuff … when I woke up in the mornings, something is always a concern,” Wright explained to reporters. “Whether it’s my back, my neck, my shoulder, some days that pain in any one of those three areas, or all three of the areas, can be moderate and manageable. And there are some days where it was too painful to think about baseball.”
It’s a minor miracle that Wright has been able to make it back for this one appearance. It’s mainly out of respect for him and his icon status within the organization that the Mets are allowing him this opportunity. It remains unclear if Wright will see any other action between the time he’s activated on September 25 and his planned start on September 29. However, Wright will get at least one more chance to play, allowing him to end his career (to some extent) on his own terms.