Mets 3B David Wright set for simulated game in comeback try
NEW YORK (AP) — David Wright is scheduled to participate in a simulated game Saturday at Citi Field, the next step for the New York Mets‘ captain as he tries to make a major league comeback from neck, back and shoulder injuries.
The third baseman hasn’t played in the big leagues since May 2016. He batted a combined .171 (7 for 41) with one double in 10 games for Class A St. Lucie and two with Triple-A Las Vegas last month before his rehab assignment expired on the final day of August.
“Where he got to at the end of the 20 days was not where we thought he needed to be,” Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said Friday. “Honestly, it does get more difficult to foresee a situation where he could come back to that level.”
Right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak, on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, will be among the pitchers to face Wright in the simulated game.
“We’re going to put him through the grinder a little bit and we’re going to get to see exactly where he’s at. And more importantly, we’re going to see the next day how he recovers,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “So, I think that all of our coaches are going to get an eye on him, and I’m sure, from a baseball perspective, we will have some input.”
With the season over for New York’s farm-system affiliates, Wright and the Mets are looking for other ways to measure his progress. He’s expected to get six at-bats Saturday and take grounders in the field.
“It’s probably not actual game speed, but it’s as close as you can get out there on the field in practice. And we’ll set up some situations where runners might be and have him react and things like that,” Callaway said before the Mets faced the Philadelphia Phillies. “We know that David’s instincts are very good. He’ll probably never lose those. It’s more just, OK, can he do all the fundamental things necessary to go out there and compete in the big leagues? And it sounds like he’s getting close to that.”
A seven-time All-Star, Wright is under contract through 2020. He is making $20 million this year and is owed $27 million over the next two seasons.
If the Mets reinstate him from the 60-day disabled list, it would likely diminish the amount of insurance money they could collect on his contract.
“I think really where we’ve been all along, it’s been a health thing,” Ricco said. “He’s been out for two years. It’s just making sure that when he comes back, that he’s able to physically take the field and perform.”
The 35-year-old Wright, who worked out with the Mets before Friday’s game, is trying to return from several operations. One was for a cervical disk herniation, another was to repair his right rotator cuff, and he also had a laminotomy procedure on his lower back last October.
Despite his chronic spinal stenosis, Wright has maintained he wants to exhaust every attempt at a comeback. But if he’s going to return, he doesn’t want it to be simply for ceremonial reasons — he wants to be able to contribute on the field.
“We ran out of minor league games before he was ready. So this is just really continuing his rehab and trying to get him to a place where he can go out there and be ready to play,” Callaway said. “I think we want to put him in a spot where he can go out there and feel like he can do the job, be successful at whatever he’s going to do, whether it’s pinch-hit that day or start, and then come out of it healthy. You know, you never want to put anybody in jeopardy. So I think those two things are our main goal.”
NOTES: Callaway said the team would like Swarzak to throw 20 pitches Saturday. If he comes out of the session OK, he would likely be activated in the next day or two. Swarzak has been sidelined since Aug. 4. … Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco received an epidural for a bulging disk in his back, and the club hopes he’ll be able to return in about a week.