David Wright just completed the most trying year of his career in 2015 after being diagnosed with stenosis in his lumbar spine and spending much of the season in Los Angeles with renowned back surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins rehabbing and hoping for a return to the big leagues.
While he was able to return and at least make an impact during the regular season, his workload to prepare for a game was monumental, spending 90 minutes preparing his back and body just for the pre-game routine every single day, which begins more than three hours before first pitch.
And after games, Wright’s lower back would be wrapped in an ice cold wrap during his post-game talks with reporters in the clubhouse.
Wright is aiming to refine those routines for next season, and so he will visit with Watkins today in Southern California not only for a checkup, but in an effort to re-define those routines with hopes he can sustain a full 162-game schedule in 2016.
“I’ve gradually gotten into doing some rehab things with my back,” Wright recently told Maria Guardado of the Star Ledger. “I’m scheduled to see the doctor on Monday and come up with kind of an offseason game plan, so I’m really looking forward to that. Now’s about the time of year where I personally get the itch to get back in training mode and get ready for spring training.”
It’s unrealistic to expect Wright to be able to play everyday, until proven otherwise. As such, the Mets are expected to employ a similar program for Wright which led to his successful return in 2015, which will be to have him play three or four consecutive games followed by a respite.
In addition, the Mets have bought themselves some insurance for Wright, in case he needs extended time off or sustains another kind of injury,
By acquiring Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker during the Winter Meetings, the Mets can transform Wilmer Flores into a super-utility infielder who can play second base, shortstop and third base for extended periods of time if needed.
Wright recently told MLB.com his back does feel good right now and has been resting since the conclusion of the World Series. He intends to ramp up his activities this week, following his visit with Dr. Watkins.
Wright hit .289/.379/.434 with seven doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances over 38 regular season games in 2015. He went 10-for-54 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 14 postseason games in 2015.
Mets acquire Neil Walker for Jon Niese | Mets agree to sign Asdrubal Cabrera | Ben Zobrist spurns Mets, signs with Cubs | Bartolo Colon could return to the Mets | Cardinals take Mets minor league RHP Matt Bowman in the Rule 5 Draft | Broken ankle for Wilmer Flores | Mets considering reunions with Tyler Clippard and Kelly Johnson
The off-season is going to be a short one for the Mets in 2015.
The Mets announced on Thursday pitchers and catchers will officially report to Port St. Lucie on Wednesday, February 17, with their first workout taking place Friday, February 19.
Position players will report to Port St. Lucie on Wednesday, February 24, with the first full-squad workout taking place on Friday, February 26.
The Mets begin their Grapefruit League schedule on Thursday, March 3 against the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. They play their first home game at Tradition Field on Friday, March 4 against the Marlins.
To see their entire Spring Training schedule, click here.
The Mets have spent the better part of the last month recruiting Ben Zobrist in an effort to join their pursuit for their first World Championship since 1986.
But the Mets failed in their efforts, as the 34-year-old free agent agreed to sign with the Cubs on Tuesday, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The deal is pending a physical, and it’s for four years and $56 million.
This is a disappointing turn of events for the Mets, as all signs were pointing to the super-utility player joining their club as late as 5:00 pm ET. But the Cubs – who may or may not have been in on Zobrist for the duration – clearly became a more attractive option for Zobrist even with their infield excess.
There’s also the Joe Maddon factor, which is significant considering the two spent so many years together in Tampa Bay. That might have proved very significant in the end.
There’s no question Zobrist checked most of the boxes the Mets are seeking to fill this winter. He’s a versatile player, capable of playing at least three positions on the infield as well as both corner outfield spots. He is a contact-oriented hitter, and showed during the World Series against the Mets he is one of the better fastball hitters in the game, even as he concluded his age-34 season. He would help transform the top of their lineup from swing-and-miss to more contact with an ability to get on-base, and be another solid, veteran leader for the clubhouse as well.
But alas, the pursuit ended in disappointing fashion, and the Mets must quickly turn their attention to alternatives and fast.
Assistant GM John Ricco has said Daniel Murphy could be a fallback option to Zobrist, and they’ve reportedly expressed interest in signing Asdrubal Cabrera and trading for Neil Walker.
But all of those players can be considered drop-offs to Zobrist, even though Zobrist is the older of the three.
For the last couple of years, Mets brass has maintained their stance that neither Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki would change positions at any point in the near-term.
Presumably, the Mets didn’t want to devalue either player by moving them from a premium position and installing them at a new position where their defense could suffer and their bats might not be as valuable.
But the club will carry both Plawecki and d’Arnaud on the roster in 2016, meaning if they’re both going to be catchers, it will be difficult to find adequate playing time for each.
As such, the club’s stance has changed to a degree, as assistant GM John Ricco said on Friday at Citi Field they will have both of their catchers work at other positions during spring training in an effort to have both of their bats in the lineup as much as possible while keeping them fresh as well.
“We have two players that we like a lot, and think will be good hitters,” Ricco explained. “We’d love to have both of them on the field.”
Ricco said he wasn’t sure what position or positions either of their catchers might work at during camp, but said the club will talk to Terry Collins and the players to try and formulate a plan.
“Ultimately, that will be [Collins’] decision as to where he plays those guys,” Ricco said. “But we like both of them, and we’re going to want to try to get them both as much playing time as possible.”
Such a move would certainly help keep both players fresh, but in the case of d’Arnaud, such a move – even if it’s on a part-time basis – might help to simply keep him on the field, something he’s struggled to do consistently due to a lot of bad luck. Of course, the Mets don’t want to fix one problem and create another at the same time in terms of having liabilities on the field, but they wouldn’t be the first catchers to play other positions at the big league level.
It’s worth mentioning Plawecki has played first base in the minor leagues over the course of his professional career. However, d’Arnaud has never played another position.
D’Arnaud missed much of the 2015 season due to a broken bone in his left hand he sustained when he was hit by a pitch against the Marlins in mid-April, and after a collision at the plate in late June against the Braves in Atlanta. That allowed for significant playing time for Plawecki, who hit .219/.280/.296 in 258 plate appearances over 73 games in his first big league season.