Yesterday’s David Wright press conference epitomized the term “bittersweet.” After two plus years of surgeries, rehab and set backs, the Mets captain is rejoining the roster on September 25 with plans to start the game on the 29th. His primary motivation for fighting through all the pain was giving his young daughters the chance to see their daddy in uniform. If that didn’t move you to tears, surely the second part of the announcement did, that Wright will hang up his spikes at the end of the season.
Wright himself delivered much of the press conference through tears. Just talking about it afterward, Nelson Figueroa got teary. Surely more tears were shed in the clubhouse and on couches at home.
Wright was flanked by Assistant GM John Ricco and owner Jeff Wilpon. None of the three mentioned the word retirement, but, instead said that Wright would be medically incapable of playing next year. It’s not hard to read between the lines. If he officially retires, he has to negotiate a buyout of his remaining $28 million contract, but if he’s medically ineligible, insurance money will cover most of his salary. Wright deferred to Wilpon on a reporter question that asked for clarification on this point. It’s easy to shout “cheapskate!” at the TV, but logically, it makes sense. The Mets owners committed a great deal to Wright with a large contract that mainly served to reward him for his early years and for serving as a great team ambassador.
Wright said he doesn’t know what his next career move will be yet, but that he loves the game of baseball and bleeds blue and orange. It’s not hard to envision him as a coach, scout or announcer in the coming years. He has the charisma, the leadership abilities, earned respect, baseball acumen and likability to fill any of those roles. And while the back of his baseball card appears sadly cut short, his Mets career is still worthy of a retired number 5 on the outfield wall someday. Seven All Star games, five seasons of .900+ OPS, two Gold Gloves and a World Series appearance is not quite Cooperstown worthy, but it’s earned Wright a place in the Mets Hall of Fame. He’s been a team favorite and a fan favorite, a leader on and off the field, a great player and a great guy who always represented his team well and set a fine example for young players.
Hopefully, Wright can end his career on a high note later this month. But whether he hits one more home run, makes one last bare handed play at the hot corner or neither, he’ll get that epic standing ovation that he so richly deserves.