2016 return unlikely, but Wright in good spirits

3rd baseman not optimistic about rejoining lineup this year, but does plan on playing in future

2016 return unlikely, but Wright in good spirits

NEW YORK -- The physical toll the past two weeks have had on David Wright were apparent. A bandage on his throat covered the scars from the surgery he underwent on June 16 to repair a herniated disk in his neck, and the Mets' third baseman looked noticeably lighter.

For the more than 19 minutes Wright talked to reporters inside the Mets' clubhouse on Friday, though, he seemed to be in a good spirits with the worst of this malady seemingly behind him.

With at least a three-month recovery period looming, Wright did not seem very optimistic about returning to New York's lineup in 2016, but he was clear on his intent for the future.

"I can't wait to get back out there, but the most important thing for me now is my health and trying to get my neck healed," Wright said. "If I go and do something I'm not supposed to, we're not talking about baseball, we're talking about something that is going to affect me later in life."

"I love the game, and I want to get back to playing this game. … I plan on coming back and being the player that I feel like I'm capable of being."

The neck operation, though, is just the latest injury that has prevented Wright from being that player over the past two seasons.

A spinal stenosis diagnosis in May 2015 -- something Wright said could tack on additional recovery time from this operation -- has forced the 33-year-old to go through rigorous activities just to get ready to play.

"At some point, your body gives way -- it's just natural, especially when you play, for me, from when you are 4 or 5 years old," Wright said. "All of the injuries that I've sustained over the past couple of years are a direct result of going out there and trying to play as hard as you can and trying to play at a level that I've proven that I could play at during my career.

"When you do that, things like this happen. … If you told me I'd have a neck surgery and some back issues, I'd do it all over again. I enjoy what I do and plan on continuing to enjoy what I do."

In the meantime, Wright, who returned to Citi Field on Thursday night for the first time since his surgery, will try to attend as many home games as possible going forward, watching from the bullpen instead of the dugout because of his lack of mobility.

"It's good to be back here, good to be around the guys, watching baseball in person and get the chance to talk baseball with the guys," Wright said. "I think that's important for me mentally, and it kind of takes my mind away from my neck."

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.