Shoulder Setback Latest Indication That Oft-Injured Mets Captain Should Call It A Career

 

By Ernie Palladino
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The time has come for David Wright to have an honest talk with himself, and then an equally honest talk with general manager Sandy Alderson.

As the bell on Wright’s career tolled another level louder Tuesday with his trip to New York to investigate a shoulder impingement, it has come time for the captain to voluntarily remove himself from the roster and allow the Mets to move on without him.

It’s the right thing to do.

They have treated him more than fairly, as they should have considering the classy and competitive way Wright represented the franchise until his body above the waist turned into a medical compendium. With neck and spine problems and now a shoulder issue likely caused by last year’s herniated neck disk surgery, with both fans and management rooting for him to soldier through, the 34-year-old did his best to overcome.

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But this latest development, a huge setback for a third baseman who had yet to throw a ball in public, shows he’ll probably never come back. According to Alderson, he won’t throw at all for two weeks, and then it could be several more before he tries to put some oomph into those tosses.

Opening the season at third is now just a pipedream. And it’s really not worth keeping Wright around for 20 or fewer games as a right-handed DH for interleague games on the road.

So now it’s time for Wright to do the right thing by the organization. He and his agent need to knock on Alderson’s door and figure out an exit strategy that suits both sides.

This won’t be an easy conversation. Wright is a competitor who will probably never believe that hard work and perseverance won’t get him through this latest trial. But more than that, he’s a modern ballplayer, which means he’s probably not going to walk away from the last four years of the seven-year, $138 million extension he signed in 2012.

But what he can do is suggest an alternative course of action. Something that will allow him to keep his money and remain part of the franchise that so revered him.

Imagine, for instance, a role as a club ambassador. Who better than the ever-smiling Wright to mingle daily with season ticket holders, sponsors, Boys and Girls Clubs and clinic participants? The boyish looks and his unabashed love of the game make him a natural for an outreach position.

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If he truly has a desire to stay in uniform, he could ask the Mets to find him a job as a roving minor league instructor. He’s done enough hitting to know a thing or two about that. Let him pay a visit or two to Brooklyn, where fellow beloved Met Edgardo Alfonzo manages the Single-A Cyclones.

An organization can always benefit from a wise former player. The Yankees are trying that now with Alex Rodriguez as a spring training guest instructor. Wright could spread his influence even further with a full-time position.

Besides, jobs like that have been known to spark an entirely different fire in retired greats. Who knows? If Wright falls in love with coaching, he could one day wind up back in the Citi Field dugout, perhaps as manager.

That would be as easy a sell as the Mets ever had.

But if coaching isn’t his thing, Wright could ask for a spot in the scouting department. Set him up with a tablet and let him assess future opponents and free agents with an eye toward an eventual seat in the executive offices.

General manager David Wright?

Why not?

It all depends on what Wright sees as his next step.

He should start contemplating that next phase now. All the work he has put in the last two years — the two-hour stretching sessions, the spinal stenosis, the pain of serious neck surgery — has yielded minimal results.

They certainly won’t improve now.

Regardless of whether his current problem gets solved by extended rest or surgery, he must face facts. If it hasn’t arrived already, the end is coming fast.

The situation warrants a conversation, started by Wright himself. He owes it to a franchise who has shown him much love and respect to let it get on with the business of chasing a championship.

Without him.

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