PORT ST. LUCIE — David Wright checked into work Tuesday morning for a job he hasn’t had for a long, long time. Once again, as he has done his entire career, Wright punched the time clock.
With the Mets agreeing to a two-year deal with third baseman Todd Frazier on Monday night, the end is reality now for Wright.
Wright, though, showed up at the Mets’ spring training complex at First Data Field in his black pickup truck promptly at 8:45 a.m. He got out of his truck wearing his usual David Wright smile as two reporters approached him.
After saying hello, Wright was asked about the signing of Frazier and what it means for the team and for him. After all, he is the Mets’ captain; his words carry weight.
Wright said the Mets told him not to talk to any reporters until next week. Always the good soldier, Wright followed these strange Silent Spring marching orders from New York, though he was only being asked about the Frazier free-agent acquisition, not a State of David Wright question.
“The Mets said I can’t talk until everyone gets here next week,’’ Wright said. More questions, and Wright repeated his answer. He did say he was feeling good physically — though he is fighting a cold — before he went behind closed doors.
When Wright left the complex some four hours later, after doing his behind-the-scenes rehab work, while his early-arriving teammates were on Field 2 working out, Wright was again asked about Frazier.
“They asked me again today to not talk until they get down here,’’ Wright said of the update he got after arriving on site from Mets hierarchy.
He made it clear he would love to talk about Frazier, if not for the request by the Mets not to talk. So it goes.
When Wright is allowed to talk, you can expect him to give glowing comments about Frazier and his addition to the Mets, though it signals the end of Wright at third base.
If by some baseball miracle Wright does return to action at some point, Frazier has told the Mets, like he told The Post more than a month ago, he could always slide over to the other corner of the diamond.
The loss of Wright, 35, has been cushioned with the smart signing of Frazier to a two-year deal worth $17 million. Wright can try to do his thing, make his miracle happen while the Mets are covered at third base.
Still, the reality of the situation has hit home in every way.
His teammates feel for Wright, just as Mets fans do. His career was on a Hall of Fame trajectory when the back injuries began. Over the past three years, Wright has become a baseball ghost. He didn’t play last year. He has played just 75 games the past three years and has only 20 home runs in the past four.
“It’s been tough to watch David go through everything,’’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud said on the field after a voluntary pre-camp workout. “He’s always been the leader of the clubhouse. I think the biggest loss is just not having him in the clubhouse. He keeps everyone accountable and just picks everyone up when they are down, too. It’s such a big loss not having him there.’’
Then d’Arnaud added: “David looks great. He looks really athletic. And he’s moving around really good.”
His teammates want to believe, Mets fans want to believe, but Wright hasn’t shown he can throw the baseball or that his damaged back can stand up to the rigors of playing the game. He has three years and $47 million remaining on his eight-year, $138 million pact; 75 percent of Wright’s salary is covered by insurance once he is on the disabled list for 60 days.
As for how Wright and Frazier will get along, d’Arnaud had no doubts.
“David is such a great guy,” d’Arnaud said. “I think he is going to be great with him.”
David Wright will continue to come to work. He will punch the clock and follow orders. The end is in sight now, though. Wright will keep fighting until the day he announces his baseball fight is over.
Reality always wins in this game.
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