NEW YORK – David Wright never used the word retirement. But the New York Mets' captain and longtime third basemen all but acknowledged that his historic 14-year career is coming to an end.
The team announced that Wright will be activated for the final homestand of the season and start at third base on Sept. 29 against the Miami Marlins. His long-awaited comeback will likely serve as a farewell for the seven-time All-Star, who's become one of the most beloved players in franchise history.
"It's truly been an honor of a lifetime to take the field with you and serve as the captain," he said during a press conference in which he had to stop to wipe away tears multiple times.
"The way I feel right now and from everything that the doctors have told me, there's not going to be any improvement," he added, on playing beyond this season. "I don't see that as a possibility."
Wright last played in the majors on May 27, 2016, and has undergone three major surgeries since. The third baseman recently played in two simulated games, and he then had to meet with COO Jeff Wilpon to discuss how the parties planned to proceed. There is a financial component to a return since the team is receiving 75 percent of his salary back via insurance while Wright is sidelined. Wilpon said during Thursday's press conference that decision to activate Wright had nothing to do with finances.
"This is a very difficult day for me and the Mets organization and our fans," Wilpon said. "David Wright is a Mets icon and one of the finest players and people ever to wear the uniform."
Wright hit one homer in the two rehab games, but his timing has been off and he did not many balls hard. He's been optimistic that he would play again this season and return to his usual level of play, but he recently had to temper expectations.
Pain in his neck, shoulder and back made life difficult. Getting through games became a challenge in and of itself.
"I'm just very appreciative to be able to run out there again and kick third base," Wright said.
"It's going to be emotional for me. But at the same time, I'm accomplishing the goal and that was to make it back out there and put that uniform on. It's weird for me putting that uniform on when I'm not playing or I'm on the disabled list. It doesn't feel right. It'll be great to put that uniform on and feel like a player."
Wright has a .296 career average with 242 home runs and 196 stolen bases. He won a pair of Gold Gloves and had an above-average OPS+ in every season as a Met. But senior VP of baseball operations John Ricco acknowledged that Wright had an intangible impact through his charitably work and by teaching a generation of Mets how to act.
"We've had a really group of guys for a really long time here," Ricco said. "It's been a huge part due to David's presence. He's a consummate professional."
The team's final homestand will be played Sept. 25-30 against the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins.
"I can't say that I have regrets," Wright said. "I felt like I knew one way to play the game. I've tried to play that way. And there's not a lot of people out there that can say that they made it to the Big Leagues, they got to be with one team for their entire career and they got to captain that team."