SAN FRANCISCO -- After 2 1/2 weeks rehabbing in the Minors, David Wright on Thursday returned to the trappings of big league life. Wright flew from Las Vegas to meet with the Mets in San Francisco, where they are scheduled to begin a three-game series Friday against the Giants.
That does not, however, mean Wright's quest to return from back, neck and shoulder injuries is at an end. Sources privy to Wright's situation painted it as an opportunity for him to continue rehabbing in front of the team's Major League training staff, while one went as far as to caution that, "I don't think he's going to be activated on this road trip," which ends Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Wright recently told multiple reporters in Las Vegas that he expects to play again this season.
"My goal still is to play in the big leagues this year," Wright told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. "I think that with the challenge I have physically, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that I could play in the big leagues this year."
It is unclear why Wright, who went 1-for-9 in two rehab games at Triple-A Las Vegas, cut short his Minor League rehab assignment with two days remaining. Although Wright played full nine-inning games on Monday and Tuesday and was likely to rest on Wednesday, he could have appeared in one final game Thursday before his rehab clock -- 20 days for position players -- expired.
Club officials noted the decision had nothing to do with a setback in Wright's health. That is unchanged from earlier this week, when assistant general manager John Ricco said Wright has not done enough "quantitatively or qualitatively" to merit a return to the Majors. Those who have spoken to Wright say that it has been difficult for him to bounce back from game to game; among the benchmarks Wright has yet to hit is playing on three consecutive days.
"It's unrealistic to think that he would be activated anytime soon based on what we've seen to this point," Ricco said.
In 12 games for Las Vegas and Class A St. Lucie, Wright hit .171 with a .404 OPS. The Mets' all-time leader in hits, doubles, walks, runs and RBIs, Wright has not appeared in a big league game since May 2016, and he has not played a full season since being diagnosed with spinal stenosis the previous year.
Another factor in Wright's activation is the insurance policy the Mets hold on his contract. Currently, the team is recouping 75 percent of his $20 million salary, but that money will stop flowing if he comes off the DL. If Wright plays in September, it could cost Mets ownership more than $2 million. Their deductible on his policy would then reset even if he returns to the DL, potentially costing the team several more million at the start of next year.
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon has stated that the Mets consider Wright's salary part of their payroll regardless of whether he is healthy, and thus do not reinvest money recouped via insurance into the roster.
Yet if Wright is healthy enough to play, team officials insist he will do so. And if his return occurs at Citi Field, Wright will assuredly receive a warm ovation from fans who have waited more than two years to welcome back the seven-time All-Star.
In the interim, Wright will be with his teammates in San Francisco, rehabbing alongside staff members who oversaw much of his early-season work.
As one official put it Thursday: "It's always good to have David around the team."