It has been nearly two months since David Wright took the field for the Mets. He was initially out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, but has since been diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis, which he told reporters he had to Google when he was first told about the condition.
Wright moved cautiously throughout the clubhouse, walking with a pin-straight posture. He talked of feeling achy, stiff and uncomfortable and appeared to be several weeks away from playing baseball, according to eyewitnesses.
From talking with team personnel, outside doctors and former players, Wright can expect to have long stretches of healthy play interrupted by weeks of manageable pain. However, whereas you or I could continue to do our jobs, the sporadic pain and numbness will undoubtedly wreak havoc on any baseball player's ability to time pitches, make perfect throws and be consistent in their performance.
In the end, despite roughly 20 minutes of answering questions, Wright gave no concrete update on his status or when he'll return to the lineup, only saying, "I'm going to come back sooner rather than later." GM Sandy Alderson offered only slightly more in terms of time, adding, “I don’t expect him back in the next couple of weeks," though he does eventually expect him to return. And, therein lies the problem for Alderson: How does he plan for the rest of the season, which is shaping up to be his first successful one since the GM joined the organization in 2010?
There is much uncertainty relative to Wright and the Mets. Is Wright this team's everyday third baseman? If he is, is he last year's Wright – the All-Star, Captain America – or Wright from the first two weeks of this season?
If he can't be Alderson's everyday third baseman, because he'll be in and out of the lineup occasionally resting his back unable to get in to any sort of rhythm, Alderson has three options:
- Does Alderson finally trade a pitching prospect for an upgrade at second base, shortstop, the outfield or, potentially, third base?
- Can Alderson punt again, horde his pitchers and not make a deal?
- Does he split the difference, gamble on Wright, and overpay to acquire a reliable utility guy he can lean on in times of crisis? And if he does nothing, what does that say to the rest of the team who look to Wright as their leader?