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“A starting pitcher, for instance, has a reproducible pattern of activity.
There’s a coordinated, muscle-firing sequence for his core muscles.
In fact, except for one stretch he does several times with 15-pound free weights, he doesn’t use weights at all.
He hasn’t had a pain-free day since—and won’t, for however long his career lasts.But he cautioned Wright last year it would require enormous amounts of work—resulting in a comprehensive, three-part routine involving untold hours of stretching, core work, and resistance training—more than in any program he’d ever attempted. It’s how his back feels most mornings—somewhat stiff, with limited rotation and flexibility through his core.He arrives at the Barwis facility around a.m., eats a light breakfast, and climbs aboard a stationary bike set to low resistance.To play at all, during the season he must put himself through intensive two-to three-hour workouts every day.The fact is, Wright, who in person is open-faced, generous, and disarmingly down-to-earth, will deal with back pain for the rest of his life.It’s the first step in a 30-minute warmup to prep for his subsequent 21⁄2-hour rehab workout.When he breaks a sweat, he dismounts and further loosens his back and limbs in a stretch cage.“But by the beginning of the season,” he recalls now, “it just hadn’t gone away and I didn’t really know what it was.” He didn’t tell the team trainers or physicians, he says, because he was desperate to stay on the field.He’d missed parts of three of the previous four seasons with a stress fracture to a spinal vertebra, a strained right hamstring, and a jammed right shoulder and was determined not to lose playing time again—particularly now, with a Mets team that seemed poised to win.During the workout, Wright maintains a tight, workmanlike focus, taking brief pauses between exercises—but only one break.About two-thirds of the way through his regimen, during a set of military presses, he spots a wheelchair-bound man trying with difficulty to enter the facility.