Wright's health could be key to Mets' success

Captain remains crucial component of team despite spinal condition

Wright's health could be key to Mets' success

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Scan the Mets' lineup and David Wright's name no longer stands out in marquee lights. With respect to Wright, who missed most of last season due to spinal stenosis, the Mets' offense now revolves around Yoenis Cespedes. Others, including Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda, are the glue.

All of which leaves Wright about as anonymous as a presumably healthy seven-time All-Star could ever be heading into a season. But the Mets aren't fooled.

"He's a huge piece of our lineup," manager Terry Collins said. "He's still the captain on this team. He's still the face of this organization. And he's worked hard -- not only last season when the injury occurred, but this winter -- to get himself into the best shape. I'm not saying he's going to put up the numbers he did five or six years ago, but this guy still knows how to get on base. He's still is a very, very good third baseman, and we're going to need him in the lineup."

Before Spring Training began, general manager Sandy Alderson threw out 130 games as a goal for Wright, who admits that he still has regular "good days and bad days" as he plays through a back condition that will affect him for the rest of his life. That may be a bit aggressive, and the Mets will constantly work with Wright to make sure he is feeling up to his daily workload.

Wright's solo home run

But unlike last year, when Wright was so naive about his condition that he had to Google "spinal stenosis" following his diagnosis, the third baseman now understands what he can and can't do. Playing in 100-plus games is no longer a pipe dream for Wright, who was productive at least offensively last season. A return to prominence, if not stardom, is hardly outlandish for Wright, so long as he makes sure not to push his limits to their breaking point.

"That's the thing that I'm starting to come to terms with: It's not an injury. It's a condition," Wright said. "I'm not going to wake up one day, and it's going to be cured."

But Wright, at age 33, can be significantly better than last year simply by staying on the field. Even a reasonably productive season from him would change the look of the Mets' summer.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.