Just when we thought we were out, the Mets have pulled us back into a scene straight out of 2009.
Press conferences at All-Star Games are usually pretty bland affairs with some of the 857 members of the All-Star team chatting about how thrilled they are to be there, how thankful they are to everyone who helped them on the way and how, good lord willing, everything will work out for them and their team. It was unusual, then, to hear David Wright discussing something meaningful in that setting on Monday.
Wright was asked about summoning the trainers onto the field Sunday after watching shortstop Jose Reyes field a grounder and throw to first. Reyes, who was limited to batting right-handed because of an oblique injury, left the game at that point. He didn't play Sunday but was allowed to take batting practice from the left side, something Wright called "surprising" as it didn't seem to be in line with the team's stated mottos of prevention and recovery when it came to injuries this season.
"It's not my body, so I don't know exactly what he's feeling. I also don't know what he's telling other people that he's feeling," Wright said. "But if there's any chance that he could do any more damage to himself, or if there's a chance maybe it's not best for the team for him to be out there, I think ultimately somebody needs to say something and avoid him hurting himself, because he's going to want to be out there to play and he's going to want to be out there trying to do things that maybe he shouldn't."
When Jerry Manuel was asked why Reyes was allowed to play in games before being totally healed, he said that Reyes really wanted to play and that it would send a good message to other Mets to see him in there. Comments like that are why the word "facepalm" exists because, outside of spitting out a beverage in shock, there's no other response to hearing such completely misguided nonsense from the mouth of someone who simply has to know better.
Of course Reyes wants to play. Professional athletes tend to have a desire to play. It is the job of managers, general managers, trainers and doctors to make sure that they don't put themselves or the team at risk by playing when they aren't healthy enough to be on the field. That goes quadruple when you are dealing with a player like Reyes who has already made injuries worse in the past by trying to bully his way back into action before it was medically advisable.
Wright has never been anything but a good soldier for the Mets so his decision to speak so publicly about this issue carries a lot of weight. While Reyes's status was clearly the catalyst for these thoughts, you have to wonder if Wright wasn't also thinking about Carlos Beltran's return to action. He's going to want to play, just like Reyes, but there may be times when his knees demand that he sit down for a night and building a plan that ensures he won't push too far too fast is essential. That hasn't been the way the Mets have operated under Manuel and Omar Minaya, however, which is why Wright pushing the issue front and center might actually force the team to do something about it.
Would things be different if Manuel had something more than a contract option for next year? He deserves heavy criticism for the way injuries have been handled on his watch but you can also understand why a man without much job security would be doing everything he could to create more of it. Joel Sherman of the New York Post nailed this thought process on Monday -- "Manuel is not going to overthink it when he has just one thought on his mind: Survival." -- and that situation means someone else, whether it is Minaya or a member of the medical staff, has to be more involved in this process to make sure the players are being protected.
The long-term health of players benefits the long-term health of the Mets, something that everyone but the Mets themselves have figured out a long time ago.