David Wright watched a 3-2 pitch fly by. The umpire barked strike three. Wright shook his head and walked back to the New York Mets dugout as the Dodgers fired the ball around the infield.
Three innings later, Wright watched from the dugout steps as Curtis Granderson ripped a walk-off home run to give the Mets a 6-5 win over Los Angeles.
It was May 27, 2016, the last time Wright played a major league game.
He has played in just 75 of the Mets 486 games the last three seasons — including zero in 2017 — or 15% of all regular season games.
Last month, Wright underwent his third surgery in 16 months, a laminotomy on his lower back. It hurts me just typing the word. He has also endured neck surgery to repair a herniated disc (June 2016) and rotator cuff surgery (March 2017).
The latest surgery is designed to “alleviate (back) pressure on a compressed nerve in the back of the spinal cord,” created by spinal stenosis, a chronic condition that Wright was diagnosed with during the 2015 season.
In a statement released by the Mets, Wright sounded determined to return:
“Through this entire rehab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can. That’s why I had the shoulder surgery and that’s why today I underwent back surgery to reduce the risk of further issues going forward. With these two surgeries behind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uniform again as soon as possible. My desire to play is as strong as ever.”
Regardless of whether Wright plays or not, he will earn $47 million over the final three years of his contract, a deal that the Mets medical insurance has/will cover.
So, at age 34, and millions of dollars guaranteed, why would Wright risk further injury, and potentially embarrassing himself, to play baseball again?
Passion. Fire. Desire.