On Friday, New York Mets assistant general manager John Ricco made some rather inflammatory statements regarding Mets captain David Wright‘s attempt to return to the field after more than two years on the sideline.
Wright, 35, was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a degenerative disease that, in summary, wreaks havoc on practically one’s entire body (the back bone’s connected to the neck bone…) in 2015. Since then, the seven-time NL All-Star has undergone a litany of major surgeries on his neck, back, and shoulder.
Since Wright began his trek back to Flushing with his outfield throwing session at Citi Field in May, there has been a growing hope among the fanbase that The Captain would return to the Mets this season. With each and every step he has taken along that path back to Queens, that sentiment has grown exponentially.
Alas, as things tend to go around these parts, the Mets front office continues to rain on that parade as consistently as afternoon thunderstorms roll across the state of Florida.
Back on August 20, just six games into his rehab assignment (2-for-17 at the time), the team was already downplaying the possibility that Wright would return this season.
The day it was announced that Wright would be moving his rehab operations to Vegas, as per Puma, John Ricco publicly pooh-poohed that idea.
“It’s unrealistic to think he would be activated anytime soon, based on what we have seen to this point,” he said. “We tried to put in place a program […] and show us he’s ready to be a major league player and so far he hasn’t reached that […].”
Just a day later, it was reported that Wright “is driving this train for the most part”, adding that “he is coming back”, as per a source (Puma).
This type of public contradiction is absolutely baffling. Unfortunately, this type of behavior has come to be expected from this organization, which is an incredibly depressing thought but, nevertheless, is the current reality.
Wright went 8-for-51 in 15 rehab games, 12 with Advanced-A St. Lucie and three with Triple-A Las Vegas, before rejoining Mets last weekend in San Francisco once the MiLB season concluded.
On Saturday, Wright is scheduled to play in a simulated game at Citi Field, batting against Mets reliever Anthony Swarzak, who is rehabbing as well.
Before Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Phillies, John Ricco expounded on the Wright situation to the press. In an article by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Ricco had his hogwash dispenser set to high and really opened that baby up.
“[Wright] had the better part of the summer to get back to the point where he could get in rehab games. He did that, but not at the level we had talked about,” he said. “Honestly, it does get more difficult to foresee a situation where he could come back to that level.”
When asked, generally, about the monetary factors that could be affecting the team’s decision to activate Wright, Ricco juked harder than Barry Sanders, poorly feigning an attempt to change the narrative of the question.
“I think really where we have been all along, it’s been a health thing. He’s been out for two years, and when he comes back is he physically able to take the field and perform, so that is really where my mind has been.”
When pressed further, presumably more in line with the insurance policy the team has on Wright, Ricco basically claimed it was above his pay grade.
“I am not privy to the conversations that have been had between us and the insurance company. I really don’t know about that. The focus we’ve had has been trying to get David back as a full-time player.”
If this writer may so bluntly ask, why on Earth is this organization concerned with a few million dollars being paid to the closest the Mets have had to a franchise player since Tom Seaver, after the career he knowingly sacrificed in order to bring a World Series title to Flushing and even more so, after willed his way back to the cusp of his ultimate goal, the major leagues?
Matt Ehalt of The Record tweeted an alarming fact last night, saying “if Wright returned today, it would cost the Mets about $2 million this year and $3.7 million next year.”
My brain twitched, my blood pressure spiked, and my heart sank reading that.
How could a little under $6 million be deterring a once-proud franchise from bringing back one of the most decorated players in the history of the team, after the arduous journey he’s had to traverse just to make it back to this point?
We, as fans, have put up with losing seasons, laughable scenarios that could only happen to the New York Mets, and many other #LOLMets moments; quite frankly, too many to count.
But for this organization to turn their piss-poor ways of conducting business on the face of the franchise in David Wright could very well be the last straw for an entire generation of fans.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.
Give this proud man and franchise cornerstone the respect that he’s earned over the last fifteen-plus years.
Let him go out like he deserves to go out, stepping across the first-base line on his way to the Mets dugout, waving that blue-with-an-orange-button cap to the Flushing faithful. He deserves as much, if not a whole lot more.