NEW YORK -- With a little more than six weeks left in the regular season, the window for David Wright to return to the Mets shrinks by the day. When asked for specifics about Wright's timetable, the Mets typically demur, offering little more than vague assurances that he can still return.

For the entirety of this season, Wright has battled shoulder and back issues -- partly a function of the spinal stenosis condition he will have for the rest of his life, partly ongoing fallout from his surgery last summer to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Wright has not come close to seeing live game action, even in the Minors.

"I don't know how many answers he will have or we will have through the end of this season," general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday. "I think this is an ongoing proposition. His condition has lasted for long enough for all of us I think to understand that it's something that's not going to be completely corrected. This is probably a condition that needs to be managed, rather than one that can be cured or corrected. So I'm not sure that anything in the short term is going to give us the complete answer. I know he wants to get back on the field before the end of the season. We'll see if that happens."

Asked if a return is realistic, Alderson replied: "He certainly thinks it is. I'm not going to sit here and tell him or tell you that it's not."

Regardless of whether Wright plays this season, Alderson acknowledged that the Mets will not be able to count on him in 2018 -- at least not as an everyday player. The Mets came into this year with Jose Reyes as Wright's primary backup at third base. But Reyes has struggled in his age-34 season, and has been needed elsewhere on the diamond.

As a result, six different players have manned third for the Mets, five of them playing at least 15 games there. They have hit a combined .255 with a .689 OPS. The Mets' -1.9 WAR* at the position ranks 28th in MLB.

"We didn't have an everyday, top-shelf third-base option the way some teams do," Alderson said. "Not that we have played terribly at third base, but we didn't go into the season with a solidified situation in part because we were not sure what David's condition would be. Now as we go into 2018, do we build on what we learned in 2017 and act accordingly, and consider moving David to another position, that sort of thing? That's all something that has to be evaluated as we get into the offseason.

"We're not going to have all the answers by the end of this season. We want as many as possible."

The team will not ask Wright to retire, Alderson said, nor attempt to buy out the $47 million remaining on his contract after this season. But the Mets could look to replace him nonetheless. Among the third basemen available on the open market is Mike Moustakas, a 28-year-old star hitting .282 with 35 home runs for the Royals entering Wednesday. Already, pockets of Mets fans are clamoring for him.

Asked Wednesday if the Mets would consider acquiring an everyday third baseman this winter, Alderson demurred.

"That's something that we'll look at as those opportunities arise, present themselves," the GM said. "We're always looking to get better. At the same time, I think we have to recognize the reality of David's situation and we have to plan around that, as we have over the last year or so.

"That doesn't answer your question, but it's as good as I can get."

* Baseball Reference WAR