Wright likely won't be ready for Opening Day
Mets captain has shoulder impingement, restraining his ability to throw
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Shortly before flying to New York for the examination that would reveal an impingement in his right shoulder, David Wright found manager Terry Collins in the Mets' clubhouse and admitted, during a frustrating week of throwing through pain, that he might have to invest in a first baseman's mitt.
Collins called it a typical act of selflessness from Wright, the team captain. But it may ultimately be an unnecessary one. Doctors on Tuesday diagnosed Wright with an impingement, which the Mets believe stems from muscle weakness following his neck surgery last June. Wright will refrain from throwing a baseball for "a couple of weeks," according to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, and the third baseman will not attempt to throw with significant velocity for at least a month.
The diagnosis cripples Wright's chances of being ready for the Mets' April 3 opener against the Braves.
"Certainly, it's difficult to say he's going to be ready for Opening Day," Collins said. "But this kid's a special human being. He will do it the right way. And we'll just see when his arm gets better."
Though Wright had hoped to report to Spring Training in something close to game shape, he has since experienced difficulty throwing a baseball. The third baseman received a platelet-rich plasma injection in early February to reduce inflammation in his shoulder, but never advanced beyond light games of catch.
Doctors believe that rest, as well as a strengthening program, will allow Wright to regain strength in his shoulder. The Mets were also thrilled to learn there is nothing structurally wrong in Wright's shoulder, such as a muscle or ligament tear that would necessitate surgery.
But the recovery process will still take weeks. Wright can play games at designated hitter while he strengthens the shoulder, but he will not be able to take any reps at third base.
"What's happening here is that the muscles around the shoulder have not re-engaged since the surgery," Alderson said. "That's taking more time than anticipated."
The injury thrusts Jose Reyes, who started 50 games at third base last season in Wright's absence, back into an everyday role there. It also creates an opportunity for T.J. Rivera, Gavin Cecchini or another roster hopeful to make the team as a reserve.
Reyes, like everyone else around the Mets, was too busy digesting news of Wright's health on Tuesday to talk about the fallout. Collins noted that many players flagged him down after hearing the news, hoping for some sort of update. In that fashion, Wright's injury sent ripples through camp.
It was not, however, entirely unexpected. Now 34 years old, Wright has appeared in a total of 75 games over the past two years, and he has not completed a full, healthy season since 2012. In addition to his neck and shoulder woes, Wright is still suffering from spinal stenosis, a back condition that will affect him for the rest of his career.
Though the Mets owe Wright $67 million guaranteed over the next four seasons, they have recouped much of his recent salary through an insurance policy on his contract.
"It's very hard," Collins sad. "But there are certain people who can deal with adversity and know how to get through it, and David's one of those guys. He's not going to stand in the way of us progressing in Spring Training. He'll get on a program. He'll do his stuff. But I know one thing: He will be with us in spirit every day. He'll be in that clubhouse every day leading the charge, like he always has. I just hope he continues to progress and gets back."