Wright eyes another healthy run with Mets

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There is no quit in David Wright. The Mets' captain and third baseman has gone through right shoulder surgery, neck surgery and surgery to correct spinal stenosis in his back five weeks ago.

Despite it all -- he's in the early stages of rehab in Southern California -- Wright would like to give his baseball career at least one more chance.

"The goal is to come back as strong as ever," Wright said Wednesday night. "It's kind of baby steps. We'll do the rehab process. Then we'll get into a more strenuous rehab process and see how my body responds, and hopefully start revving it up baseball-wise.

"I've made it abundantly clear I'm not going to risk my life after baseball. But I would like to give it another shot. That's what I'm working towards."

And if he can't make it back this time?

"I don't know," Wright said. "I'm not that much of a planner. I can't think that far ahead. I'm just trying to get through this rehab thing and see if I can do the baseball thing pain-free. The goal for me is to go out and play. And that's the mindset I have."

Wright was at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday night to be inducted in the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame. This year's class includes National League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Mike Trout.

"Excellent company," said Wright, who's the 42nd player inducted into the AFL Hall.

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Wright played in the Fall League for the Peoria Saguaros in 2003, coming off a season at Class A. At that point, he had his entire career ahead of him. He returned on Wednesday having played just 75 games in 2015-16 and none during the just-concluded season.

Wright, 34, looked fit and trim, wearing a light blue open-collared shirt that hung neatly outside his slacks. He looked great for a stock broker, if not a Major League ballplayer. As always, he was amazingly approachable, even upbeat despite his current predicament.

"I'm thankful that I had about 10 injury-free years," Wright said. "I'm paying for all those injury-free years the last three years."

Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and missed most of the 2015 season. He returned just in time for the Mets' first World Series appearance since 2000. New York lost in five games to the Royals as Wright went 5-for-24 with a homer and four RBIs. It wasn't exactly the way he envisioned it.

"At least I was able to make it back for that," he said.

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Aside from the other injuries, the back continued to deteriorate. Where once he could undergo hours of preparatory therapy just to be able to play in a particular game, that course of action began to disappear.

"When I was first diagnosed with spinal stenosis, they took MRIs and all the tests and they've done follow-up tests since," Wright said. "The doctors were seeing the difference. They were watching it worsen over the years, and in the end, they felt that surgery was the best option.

"Not just to go out and play baseball, but to be relatively pain-free on a daily basis. That's what we opted for, and we'll see what happens from here."

Wright had the surgery in Los Angeles on Oct. 5 under the guidance of noted back surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins, who is overseeing his therapy.

The surgery, according to Wright, was extensive. He had a herniated disk, two bone spurs and ligament removed.

"They said it was three main factors that were pushing on my spine, creating the stenosis," Wright said. "They took care of all of those things and got it where they want it to be. I guess now, just time will tell."

Wright said he's undergoing rehab "on training wheels" right now.

"It's strengthening the muscles around the area where I had surgery so that they hold the disk tight and in place and protect that area," Wright said. "It's the same rehab anyone would have to do after this surgery whether they were a baseball player or not."

Wright has three years to go on the eight-year, $138 million deal he signed prior to the 2013 season with the Mets, who still owe him $47 million.

He could easily pack it in and go home with a career line of .296/.376/.491, 242 homers, 970 RBIs and a .867 OPS over 13 seasons. But he feels that he owes the Mets something, and that he owes himself something.

That's why he's again giving it a try. The days are long. It's three months until Mets Spring Training opens in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"That's too far away, too far in the future for me to even think of," Wright said. "I can't even talk about it. Like I said earlier, it's kind of baby steps and that's all I can think about right now. You've got to walk before you can run.

"Hopefully these surgeries do some good, fix some of the problems I've been having and give me the chance to go out there and give it another shot. At least, that's the plan."

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