New York Mets third baseman David Wright announced on Thursday that he would play at least one final game with the team on its last homestand then step away from baseball because of a long history of back injuries.
Wright is 35 and a seven-time All-Star who has played parts of 13 seasons in the majors. He will collect the final two years and $27 million on his contract with the team expected to receive an insurance settlement.
For Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, it was sobering news.
“I didn’t know about that,” he said. “That’s crazy. He was a great player.”
Pedroia is 35, has played parts of 13 seasons in the majors, and is a four-time All-Star. He also will end the season on the disabled list recovering from a series of surgical procedures on his left knee.
Once the season ends, Pedroia will have missed 216 games over the last two seasons, including all but three this year.
But unlike Wright, Pedroia has no intentions to step away from baseball. He sees his situation as temporary.
“I knew from the start this year would be tough,” Pedroia said. “But after this year I’ll be fine.”
Pedroia had cartilage restoration surgery last October and was told he would be able to return in May, which proved true. But complications put him back on the disabled list after only five days on the roster.
“The time frames were off. That was it,” Pedroia said. “In the end result, I’ll be back.”
Pedroia was away from the team for nearly two months, returning home to Arizona to get his rehabilitation work done. It was the first summer without baseball he could remember.
“All my days were consumed with getting better,” Pedroia said. “It was killing me to be away but that’s part of it. I look at it like a pitcher who has Tommy John [surgery]. You’re going to be out a year, it doesn’t mean your career is over.”
Pedroia said being around his wife and three sons all day was refreshing. He took the boys to school and practices.
“That got me through everything,” he said.
Pedroia has three seasons and $40 million left on his contract and has every intention of playing until the end of the deal, if not beyond.
“We’ll see. I think going through what I’ve gone through, I don’t look ahead,” Pedroia said. “I have learned that. You never know. I have a new knee. Maybe in three years I’ll be better than ever. That’s why I had the surgery, to return to play the way I can play.”
Pedroia said the team’s success has made it easier for him to miss so much time.
“Absolutely. I enjoy what they’re doing,” he said. “It would be worse if we weren’t playing well because it would make not playing even harder.”
Setup man or men?
Manager Alex Cora does not plan to enter the postseason with one reliever designated for the eighth inning. He would prefer the flexibility of making decisions based on the situation, not set roles.
“We need versatility,” he said. “Guys that can match up with whoever we’re facing: fastballs up, breaking balls, a slider. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Matt Barnes, who has been the primary setup man much of the season, had a more aggressive session of playing catch and could throw off the bullpen mound this weekend. Barnes has not pitched since Sept. 3 because of inflammation in his left hip.
Cora said Barnes should be able to pitch in a game before the end of the regular season.
“He’s doesn’t need much, we feel,” Cora said. “It’s just a matter of getting better.”
Nunez leaves game
Eduardo Nunez had an unusual night. While jogging out a ground ball in the second inning of Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays, he sped up when the throw got away from first baseman Justin Smoak, and fell after stumbling over the base. Nunez then slid into second after a double in the fourth inning and was replaced by pinch runner Rafael Devers. The Sox announced Nunez had a sore right knee and is day to day. He has been getting treatment on that knee all season . . . The Mets arrive at Fenway for a three-game series starting Friday. Their coaching staff includes bench coach Gary DiSarcina and first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. They had the same positions with the Red Sox under former manager John Farrell last year . . . Brock Holt wore multicolored New Balance cleats designed by patients at the Jimmy Fund Clinic in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.