The most brutal, cringe-worthy part of sports is seeing a high-level, elite athlete succumb to injuries and Father Time. No one likes watching a former All-Star decline rapidly in skill, and embarrass themselves in the field.
That's exactly the pain New York Mets fans have felt over the past two years, as they've watched David Wright slip from a Gold Glove-caliber, All-Star athlete to a light-hitting bench player. Now at the age of 34, and with a back condition that will be with him for the rest of his pro career, the fact is that Wright's athletic prime is behind him.
He's no longer the guy who earned the nickname "Captain America," after leading the Mets to the postseason in 2006. That was a decade ago, but it sure does feel like a different lifetime. Make no mistake: The Virginia native is a shell of his former self. Wright hit .325 with 30 homers in 2007. In comparison, he hit just .226 with seven homers in 2016.
The question is: How comfortable will he be with his decline? Is Wright going to be okay playing out his days as a part-timer? Will he be comfortable riding the bench more often than not? Wright, is a gritty, battle-tested veteran, and he's not going to go down without a fight. He's going to put in the time in the exercise room to make sure he's game-ready.
But even with intensive training, there's no guarantee he'll be the guy he was in 2007, when he won the Silver Slugger Award. Sandy Alderson wouldn't make any guarantees on how many games Wright will play this year, so it's clear even the front office has no idea what to expect from the former superstar. The hope is that Wright will be the professional he always has been, and help his team any way he's capable of.