NEW YORK – New York Mets captain David Wright will return for the team’s final homestand and make what will probably be his last appearance as a big leaguer.
The Mets said that they plan to activate Wright when they return to Citi Field on Sept. 25 against Atlanta. The 35-year-old is scheduled to start at third base on the second to last day of the regular season against Miami.
It would be his first major league game since May 2016. Wright has worked to return from a litany of neck, back and shoulder injuries that have required surgery.
Although not officially retiring, Wright is not expected to play again after this season.
“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 if he could play beyond 2018. “So, yeah, I don’t see that as a possibility.”
Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon and Senior VP of Baseball Operations John Ricco joined Wright for an emotional news conference on Thursday prior to the club’s doubleheader against the Marlins to make the announcement, ending speculation on whether the seven-time All-Star would return.
“David Wright is a Mets icon, one of the finest players and people ever to wear the uniform, Mets uniform or any uniform, and clearly our fan favorite,” Wilpon said.
“Despite more than two years of hard work, three surgeries and a rehab assignment, his body’s still preventing him from making it back. I’ve had many conversations with David and he’s told me that he wants to end this year on our active roster.”
Wright’s contract includes salaries of $20 million this year, $15 million next season and $12 million in 2020. By reinstating him from the 60-day disabled list, it would likely lessen the amount of insurance money the Mets could collect.
“David has earned the opportunity to return to the major league field. Out of respect for him personally, professionally, and for our fans we want to give him that opportunity,” Wilpon added.
“The decision has nothing to do with insurance or finances. It’s about David’s long-term health, his quality of life and desire to get back on the field. Giving him the chance to return to the field is the right thing to do for David, our organization and the fans.”
Wright appeared in 12 rehab games in August, hitting a combined .171 with a double and two RBIs in 41 at-bats for Class A St. Lucie and Triple-A Las Vegas. Wright took live batting practice twice since Saturday and also fielded grounders.
“A lot of times my mind and my heart were telling me one thing and my body was telling me something completely different,” Wright said.
“Once things ramped up and baseball activities got tougher and certainly the games became for me more of just ‘let me get through this and survive it’, it became more apparent to me that that goal is now I just want to put this uniform on again.”
A first-round pick of the Mets in 2001, Wright has hit .296 with 242 home runs and 970 RBIs in 1,583 regular-season games. The longest-tenured active player with a single team in the major leagues, he is the team’s all-time leader in hits, runs, walks, RBIs and doubles.
“I’ve been wearing this uniform or something similar for half my life now, and that’s an honor that I don’t take lightly and something that I take a lot of pride in,” Wright said, choking back tears. “I truly bleed orange and blue.”
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