David Wright has rejoined the Mets, but his presence after spinal fusion surgery to remove a herniated disc likely will be confined to inspirational rather than physical contributions this season. Before Friday night’s game against the Cubs, in his first post-surgery interview, Wright made it clear that, as much as he wants to resume his baseball career, the imperative now is to get healthy for the rest of his life.
Sporting a beard and a bandage on the front of his throat, where Dr. Robert Watkins made the incision for the operation on June 16 in Marina del Rey, California, Wright had to turn his entire upper body stiffly as he addressed each question. He said he generally wears a neck brace and can’t begin rehabilitation until healing is complete.
Asked if there is any chance to return this season, Wright said: “I love the game of baseball, and I can’t wait to get back out there. But the most important thing for me now is my health. If I do something I’m not supposed to, we’re not talking about baseball. We’re talking about something that’s going to affect me later in life.”
Wright’s next checkup is in six weeks, and he has another three months after surgery, which would place it in mid-September. “You can do the math,” Wright said. “In the next three months, I’m really not doing anything.”
Describing the surgery, Wright explained that his ruptured disc, which had the potential to cause permanent damage, was removed along with bone fragments and the substance inside the disc. It was replaced with a small metal cage, and bone marrow was taken from a hip joint and placed in the cage to facilitate the fusion process. Everything is held in place with a metal plate and screws.
“I plan on coming back and being the player I’m capable of being,” Wright said. But he said his existing spinal stenosis condition, which is permanent, likely will complicate recovery from neck surgery.
“I would think so,” Wright said. “You saw it took me longer to get ready for spring training this year because of the back thing. Now that I’m immobile for the foreseeable future, it will be interesting to see how my back responds.”
Wright plans to attend home games and put on the uniform, but he will sit in the bullpen instead of the dugout to avoid risky physical contact.
On another subject, Wright endorsed the return of former teammate Jose Reyes. He said Reyes has taken the right steps after a domestic-violence incident to earn a second chance. “I can’t say enough that what he did is horrible and should never be done,” Wright said. “I hope he’s learned his lesson.”