LOS ANGELES -- New York Mets third baseman David Wright believes he is moving closer to a return to baseball activity, but the captain suggested he still has hurdles to clear before doctors sign off on that type of work.
Wright, who has been rehabbing his ailing back in Los Angeles, is spending this weekend with teammates with the Mets playing at Dodger Stadium. The captain continues to express confidence he will return this season, although there is not much margin for error.
“We’re getting down to the second half of the season now, and I feel like I’ve got one shot to get this thing right,” Wright said Friday.
During his weeks of rehab with Dr. Robert Watkins’ staff in L.A., Wright has advanced to doing workouts in a weight room. He is performing movements his back would not allow a month ago, when he mostly was limited to receiving physical therapy for the spinal stenosis.
When the injury flares up, Wright’s narrow spinal cavity pinches a nerve and causes discomfort. He has not appeared in the majors since April 14.
Standing upright does not present much of an issue anymore, unlike a month ago.
“That’s been an accomplishment as far as just being upright a little longer and walking and being virtually pain-free,” Wright said.
Before Watkins clears Wright for baseball activity, the captain said he must demonstrate to the doctor he can run pain-free. Wright has not run yet, although he has been pattering his feet and doing light agility work to see if that induces discomfort. So far, so good.
Once cleared, Wright expects to do his initial baseball work in Los Angeles rather than at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. That way, Watkins can monitor his progress.
“I think he would like to be around when I start doing some real light stuff, just in case something goes wrong,” Wright said.
Wright reiterated that the spinal stenosis is caused by three factors:
He was born with a narrower-than-usual spinal canal.
A 2011 stress fracture in his lower back caused calcium deposits to form, narrowing the cavity.
The cumulative effect of swinging and torque over the years has created trauma in the area.
Wright added that surgery is not presently a consideration.
“It’s more for older people,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s typically meant for people who have to bend over and rotate and have torque for a living. I know there is a surgery for it. I was made aware that there’s a surgery for it. But it hasn’t been recommended. It hasn’t even been talked about.”
Asked if general manager Sandy Alderson ought to acquire a player via trade who is locked into third base, Wright replied: “I don’t know. I don’t make those decisions. But I’m preparing and progressing where I feel very confident that barring any kind of crazy setback that I’m going to be able to play, and hopefully play well.”
Alderson, for his part, said the hesitancy in acquiring a third baseman has more to do with what is available than uncertainty about when Wright will return.
Wright nonetheless acknowledged there will need to be a buildup of baseball activity once he is cleared. That should take several weeks, although Wright believes it could be streamlined.
“I’m sure that it’s not just going to be, ‘Hey, you can start baseball stuff, go hop in a St. Lucie game,’” Wright said.
Wright expressed optimism about his recent progress.
“It’s a slow progress, but it’s a progress indeed,” Wright said. “Every day it seems like they challenge me more and more with different things that are not necessarily trying to aggravate it, but are trying to take a step in the right direction to see what my body can handle and what it can’t handle.”