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Friday, March 22, 2013
Briefing: Captain America is Mr. Met, too

By Adam Rubin


Nick Laham/Getty Images
David Wright has experienced one celebration for clinching a division title, with Jose Reyes at Shea Stadium after a win against the Marlins on Sept. 18, 2006.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: David Wright is the fourth captain in Mets history. And deservedly so.

Wright, officially given the honor Thursday, has a lifelong attachment to the ballclub and has always represented it well.

“I’ve been here for long enough to experience a little bit of good, some bad and some ugly,” Wright said. “But I am 100 percent confident and excited and just crazy excited about the direction we’re going with some of the young players that we have. And sooner rather than later.”

As a youngster growing up in Norfolk, Va., Wright would attend International League games involving the Norfolk Tides, then the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate. He would always leave games with an autograph, even if it had to be RipTide, the Tides’ mascot.

Wright was drafted by the Mets in 2001 with a supplemental first-round selection obtained for losing Mike Hampton as a free agent to the Colorado Rockies.


Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Wright joins Derek Jeter as captains of New York's baseball clubs. The only other captain in MLB: Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox.


Among my favorite remembrances covering Wright since virtually the beginning of his pro career:

• Wright was such a diligent worker, he hit 100 points higher while playing on the road with the Class A St. Lucie Mets as compared with at home. Why? The belief is that Wright would get to the ballpark so early for home games and put in so much extra work in the batting cages, he was exhausted by the game’s first pitch.

• When Wright landed at LaGuardia before his major league debut, there was a voicemail waiting for him from Howard Johnson telling the fellow third baseman to break his Mets records. Wright used to refer to HoJo as his “baseball father.”

Before Wright’s 2004 promotion, third base was a revolving door for the Mets. In the 10 seasons before Wright’s arrival, 32 different players appeared at third base for the Mets. The most frequent from 1994-2003: Edgardo Alfonzo (515 games), Robin Ventura (436), Ty Wigginton (169), Bobby Bonilla (153), Matt Franco (94), Jeff Kent (89), Tim Bogar (72), Joe McEwing (56), Butch Huskey (48), Lenny Harris (37) and Alvaro Espinoza (37).

• In his first major league camp, Wright had dinner cooked by McEwing’s wife virtually every night of spring training.

• Wright usually is ultra-politically correct, but he did express his frustration publicly at least a couple of times. When Lastings Milledge arrived only an hour before a day game in Philadelphia in 2006, Wright called it unacceptable. A year earlier, when the Braves were en route to their 14th straight division title and the Mets played a sloppy game at Turner Field, Wright said slowly and with outward frustrating, enunciating each syllable: “There’s a reason they do it E-VER-Y SIN-GLE YEAR.”

• The Great Gazoo helmet he wore in Colorado.

• An over-the-shoulder, barehanded catch in San Diego while retreating into left field, and ramming into the stands in Seattle Derek Jeter-style.

• His commitment to doing things right. Wright, despite now having an eight-year deal, annually continues to arrive at spring training early. He reported last month the day after the Super Bowl.

• After the Mets faded from wild-card contention late in 2005, Wright and Willie Randolph walked together back to the team hotel. Randolph told Wright to remember the feeling, and use it as a motivation. The next season the Mets came within a game of the World Series.

• The image of David Wright and Jose Reyes celebrating on the field after they clinched the NL East at Shea Stadium on Sept. 18, 2006.

• Finishing second at the Home Run Derby in the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh in 2006, in his first year selected to the Mid-Summer Classic.

• Playing for more than a month in 2011 through discomfort, which turned out to be a broken back.

Meanwhile, the Mets face the Miami Marlins at 7:05 tonight at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Newly named Opening Day starter Jonathon Niese opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez.

Friday’s news reports:

• Read more on Wright’s captaincy in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Journal, Times, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.

Shaun Marcum, who received a cortisone shot his pitching shoulder Tuesday in New York, said he has now received that injection during spring training three years in a row. He insisted he will only miss the one Grapefruit League rotation turn. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News and MLB.com.

• Niese officially has been named Opening Day starter. Johan Santana is not officially on the DL, but that’s coming. "By no means do I want to say that I’m the leader of this staff,” Niese said. “Obviously Johan and Marcum. They do a very good job like that." Read more in the Post, Record, Star-Ledger, Times, Newsday, Daily News and MLB.com.

• Matt den Dekker had a two-run triple and Jeremy Hefner pitched very well while surrendering two runs in five innings, but the Mets lost to the Cardinals, 3-2, Thursday at Tradition Field.

Justin Turner (ankle) pinch-hit in Thursday’s game and also saw action on the minor league side. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (knee) batted in a minor league game. Daniel Murphy (side) is not yet ready for such game activity, and his availability for Opening Day is in jeopardy.

From the bloggers Mets Police wonders if the timing of the Wright announcement was part of an attempt to distract from the problems with the roster. … Faith and Fear in Flushing pens an ode from the captain. … John Delcos at Mets Report reports on Wright’s captaincy.

BIRTHDAYS: Ike Davis turns 26. … Sidearm reliever Joe Smith, who was traded to the Cleveland Indians on Dec. 11, 2008, turns 29.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

Great move by the @mets naming David Wright the Captain of the team... He's a class act & leader both on & off the field... Congrats David!!

— Dwight Gooden (@DocGooden16) March 22, 2013
YOU’RE UP: What is your favorite memory involving David Wright?