The captain – and spiritual leader – is back for the Mets
When franchise third baseman and captain of the team David Wright was originally placed on the disabled list on April 15th with a pulled hamstring, it seemed as if the Mets would only be without their star for a few weeks, maybe a month or so.
Once it was revealed that Wright was not only dealing with a hamstring issue, but also spinal stenosis–a back problem that has ended the careers of professional athletes in severe cases–it seemed possible he might not come back this season.
Even Michael Cuddyer was worried Wright was done for the year.
“I never let him know that I had doubts or anything like that,” Cuddyer told the New York Post on Sunday. “But it’s a credit to him to get back here.”
But for now, he is proving all of his doubters wrong. The captain is back tonight in Philadelphia.
132 days after he played his 8th and last game with the team, and week after week of difficult therapy and rehab, the captain of the New York Mets is finally back and ready for action.
It’s been a long, strange journey since Wright went on the disabled list back in mid-April. For awhile, the team survived without him just fine, as they won the final eight games of their 11-game winning streak without their third baseman.
However as Eric Campbell was thrusted into playing every day, he became more and more exposed in that spot and began to struggle. As a result, the Mets began to struggle as well. While they ended April in first place of the NL East, by mid-June things could not have been more different for this team as they were mired in a huge offensive slump, fell out of first place behind the Nationals and suffered a seven-game losing streak to boot.
The Mets suffered plenty of injuries along the way after Wright went down as Jerry Blevins, Travis d’Arnaud, Rafael Montero, Dillon Gee, Buddy Carlyle, Daniel Murphy, Erik Goeddel, Dilson Herrera, Steven Matz and Michael Cuddyer all spent time on the disabled list this season as well–some of whom still haven’t returned.
Still, the loss of Wright may have had the greatest impact.
The team has since rebounded from their June swoon, as reinforcements were brought in to augment the roster for a run towards October.
But in re-adding Wright, they get back even more talent to the roster, even if he isn’t 100 percent yet. It’s a perfect situation for both Wright and the Mets, as well, as Juan Uribe is more than capable of splitting time with David at third base while he gets re-acclimated.
But perhaps the most significant contribution Wright can make for now is just being back and being the captain of this team spiritually.
For a long time, the Mets were without their leader, without their guiding voice. For awhile they were a band of men that was thrown together, and not necessarily a team. Yes, both Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson provided a veteran presence in the Mets clubhouse, but none of them bring to the table what Wright does.
“I can honestly tell you I’m excited to have him back because his presence on our team is big,” manager Terry Collins said on Sunday afternoon. “You guys have seen the difference in the clubhouse when he’s there. There’s a different atmosphere.”
Respect is earned, not given.
That’s not something baseball scientists take very seriously, but it has significance, especially in a young clubhouse which is in uncharted territory for the most part.
This season has provided a lot of hope and excitement for Mets fans, and for me, having Wright back in the starting lineup and on the field in the stretch run of this pennant race will presumably only enhance those feelings.
Wright and this Mets fanbase share a common thread–this is the first pennant race for all of us in seven years.
I couldn’t be happier to share that with anyone else.