David Wright says he is making progress and believes he will return to Mets sooner than later.
SAN DIEGO — David Wright has been assured by doctors that he will play again and he believes he will be back sooner than later.
But when sooner is, neither the third baseman nor the Mets can say for sure. Speaking to reporters for the first time since his diagnosis of spinal stenosis was revealed, Wright said he is week-to-week now.
“There is time that you have to put in, ” Wright said Tuesday. “I go in every Monday and they test me.
“I feel like I am making progress,” Wright said, “but I am not there yet.”
Sandy Alderson said the Mets continue to look at contingency plans, both externally and internally. The Mets general manager said he has a little more clarity about Wright’s situation.
“We are not waiting on the edge of our seats for David to come back,” Alderson said.
He said that while stenosis is a long-term condition which Wright will have to manage, the Mets have been assured that he can come back from this.
“We are not looking for his replacement,” Alderson said.
The Mets have been in a wait-and-see mode for almost a month now and need to make some decisions about how to move forward. Alderson said last week that it will come to a point where they will need to make contingency plans, but the Mets GM wanted a get a clearer understanding of Wright’s condition and prognosis before they got to that point.
They are not at that point yet, Alderson said.
Wright played in eight games before he was injured. Initially, it was his hamstring, which the team said was strained, that had him on the disabled list. Then on May 8, they reported he had been shut down from rehab activities because of lower back pain.
Dr. Stefan Prada, a spinal surgeon who works with athletes at the Laser Spine Institute, told the News last week that often lower back issues can be related to hamstring issues, or that the hamstring pain could have been a symptom of the spinal stenosis.
Wright said his doctors have told him the same and the initial injury may have been a symptom.
When reporting the initial back injury, the Mets said that Wright had an MRI that revealed no structural damage to his back.
Just 15 days later, the Mets announced Wright’s back had not made any improvement and that in fact he was dealing with spinal stenosis. That is a condition where the canal of the spine narrows, often causing pain in the back, arms and legs.
Wright is in Southern California working with a team from renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins office. He received an epidural shot last week. Dr. Prada said that epidurals help speed up the healing process and can have a player back on a rehab assignment quicker.
Prada, who has not worked with Wright, said that spinal stenosis is not something that can be healed. The symptoms can be managed for an an athlete, but that it is something Wright may have to deal with again in his career.
There are differing degrees of spinal stenosis. It is the condition that forced Lenny Dykstra to retire young and Giants running back David Wilson, who had cervical (neck) spinal stenosis, both to retire young.
Some in Wright’s camp have expressed optimism that he can manage this issue and continue to be a successful major league player.
The 32-year old has had back issues before and has had a hard time staying in the lineup that last few years. In the third year of an eight-year, $ 138 million contract, Wright played 134 games in 2014, most of them very limited by a shoulder injury that eventually shut him down in early September. In 2013, he played in 112 games because he was dealing with a right hamstring injury and in 2011, he missed 60 games after suffering a stress fracture in his lower back.
That poses some long-term concerns for the Mets, with Wright’s contract running through 2020. Right now, however, they have some short-term issues to deal with. As of right now, Ruben Tejada has been the best short-term option at third base for the Mets. He went into Tuesday night’s game against the Padres 8-17 with three runs scored, three doubles and four RBI over in the four games since Terry Collins told him he would be the interim third baseman.
That allows the Mets to keep Daniel Murphy, whose bat has been crucial during the time Wright has been down, to stay at second base. While he is better defensively at third, Collins feels strongly that moving players around too much can not only upset their defense, but also their offense. He does not want to mess with Murphy’s bat at the moment.
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