NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson did not hesitate Monday when asked about the identity of his third baseman heading into next season.
"David Wright," Alderson said simply, as if anything regarding Wright these days were simple.
Yet that is the Mets' plan, which should look rosier later this month when Wright begins baseball activities for the first time since undergoing neck surgery in June. Since the Mets' season ended, Wright has spent most of his time in Los Angeles, working with spinal specialist Dr. Robert Watkins and his staff of physical therapists.
The goal is for Wright to report to Spring Training in peak shape, though no one knows exactly what form that will take for a 34-year-old who has appeared in 75 games the last two seasons. In addition to his recovery from neck surgery, Wright is still managing a spinal stenosis condition that will affect him for the rest of his career -- and that he has largely ignored since landing on the operating table.
Still, the Mets are optimistic about Wright, who has four years and $67 million remaining on his contract.
"I think he's committed to be as good as he can possibly be, but I think he also recognizes he needs to modify his training program to ensure that he can be available as often as possible," Alderson said. "I think he's realistic about what he needs to do and how he's going to keep himself in shape. The question is how that translates into performance and his ability to stay on the field."
Should it not translate well, the Mets have a familiar backup plan in Jose Reyes, who played 50 of his 60 games at third base last season. If Wright succumbs to injury again this season, Reyes is ready to slide in as the everyday third baseman.
If not, things get interesting. The Mets see Reyes as a valuable part of their offensive profile after he hit .267 with eight home runs and nine stolen bases last season, leading off every time he was in the lineup. So the Mets plan to expose Reyes to the outfield during Spring Training, with an eye toward increasing his versatility.
As a utility man capable of playing third base, shortstop, second base and multiple outfield positions, Reyes could spend more days in the starting lineup than out of it.
"Going into Spring Training, I don't see a reason why we shouldn't try that," Alderson said. "And I think it's something, by the way, that we're going to try to do throughout the organization, is put guys in different roles so that once they get to the big league level, they're at least familiar with -- if not proficient in -- playing more than one position."