David Wright‘s left shoulder injury – the one we learned about in late-June and that is still negatively impacting him – is common knowledge. Still, over the last few days, a number of articles have come out wondering what’s wrong with David Wright (as if we don’t already know).
Some of these articles ask whether Wright is ‘done’ at 31, others seem to actually take Wright at face value when he refuses to blame his shoulder injury for his poor performance.
Wright’s slugging percentage in June, the month he was injured, was .395. In July, it was .386. So far in August, it’s .247
You can think that a 31-year-old has simply lost the ability to both hit and hit for power, or you can use deductive reasoning and realize that Wright’s struggles are almost certainly due in large part to his left shoulder injury.
The fact that Wright won’t blame the shoulder injury for his struggles isn’t a surprise. If Wright is in the lineup, he makes no excuses. And Wright hates to come out of the lineup.
"We’re trying to work on a consistent swing. When your shoulder is hurt, it’s really tough. It’s hurt in his left shoulder and that’s where your swing starts, with your left side, your left hand getting to the ball. It’s been tough because he’s been trying to play through that. It’s just been a real tough haul because it’s hard to get a consistent swing when you’re in pain a little bit."
Also notice that when Wright is asked, he never says he’s not in pain. He simply won’t blame the shoulder for his poor performance.
This is something Wright also did in 2011, although the circumstances surrounding Wright’s injury were different.
A few sentences in the New York Times in 2011 discussed David Wright’s injury:
"Wright said that he thought he was injured April 19 as he dived to tag Houston’s Carlos Lee during a game at Citi Field. His back was stiff, then painful, then persistently painful, but Wright said he felt he was getting better, so he did not have an M.R.I., as the Mets had suggested."
That quote was from May of 2011, right around the time David Wright was being placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his back – one that he played through for three weeks.
Like he’s doing now, Wright played through the injury and refused to blame it for hampering him.
Many point to Wright’s power decrease that began in 2009 as a sign that he’s losing it, but it’s much more likely that the decrease has more to do with the shift to Citi Field than anything physical. Wright has admitted that Citi Field has impacted him mentally, and it’s common knowledge that the park hurt Wright’s power zone to right-center.
There’s always a chance that Wright is being forthcoming about his injury, that hitting coach Lamar Johnson is making things up, and that a player who slashed .307/.390/.514 last season is now below replacement level.
However, there’s a much greater chance that Wright is simply playing hurt. Since that removes a sky-is-falling narrative, it isn’t an interesting theory. What it likely is, though, is the truth.