For Mets fans, August and September were stacking up to be tough to watch. Entering Saturday, New York was in fourth place and 15 games out in the National League East; with playoff contention out of the question, many wish they could fast-forward to 2019.
Before Saturday's contest with the Marlins in Miami, however, the Mets made an announcement that gave those that bleed blue and orange something to keep an eye on and look forward to -- a development on someone they haven't seen in more than two full seasons.
David Wright will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday with Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Scheduled to play five innings at third base during the affiliate's game in Clearwater, Fla., at 1 p.m. ET., Wright will be making his first appearance in a professional game since a Minor League appearance on Aug. 27, 2017. His last appearance in a big league game was May 27, 2016.
"I think a lot of people just want to get their eyes on him, see how the ball is coming off his bat, how he is moving around at third, how he is throwing the ball," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said, explaining the decision-making of the rehab stint. "Everyone really felt confident that he's in a really good spot to go and compete in a game. Here he is, I know he's worked hard and he's been through a lot. I'm sure he's going to be really happy to get out there."
Callaway said the 35-year-old has made significant improvements in his rehab from his back, shoulder and neck issues that have plagued the seven-time All-Star over the past several years.
With that being said, Callaway noted that more than two years of nagging injuries have taken a toll on Wright's throwing arm.
"He doesn't have the best arm strength in the world at this point, but his accuracy seems to be good," Callaway said. "He's had some significant shoulder problems, and has some hurdles there, but releasing the ball and fielding the ball and throwing from third has been fine in practice."
Wright has spent his entire career with New York, debuting in 2004 after the Mets drafted him in the first round in '01. Since then, Wright has left his mark on the Mets' franchise record books, as he is currently the team's all-time leader in hits (1,777), RBIs (970) and runs scored (949). He ranks second only to Darryl Strawberry in home runs (242).
As for a timetable moving forward, and a potential return to the big league club, Callaway said the team will evaluate Wright's progress on a day-to-day basis and continue to consult directly with the veteran.
"We'll lean on him a lot for his feedback," Callaway said. "He's the only one who really knows his body with everything that's been going on with him these last few years. He's going to do everything he can, and push through everything he feels he can push through to get back out there."
The prospect of a return to the Major Leagues for Wright is now more tangible than it has been in years. A rehab assignment may seem like just a small cog in a long road to his big league homecoming, but to Callaway, seeing Wright on the field in game action is enough to put a return into perspective.
"Once guys are in rehab games, then anything is possible," Callaway said. "They are on the right track to getting back here and helping us out. I feel that there's a very good chance now."