PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins wants to instill team unity. So the first-year New York Mets manager suggested to stars David Wright and Jason Bay during the winter that the team ought to have weekly bowling nights during spring training.
"They said, 'This is the greatest idea we've heard,' and 'let's go with it,'" Collins said.
Wright particularly was receptive, practicing during the winter in his native Norfolk, Va.
Wright ultimately had the high score for a single game at 259. Mike Pelfrey was second at 188.
For his part, Collins bought a bowling ball with a Mets logo painted on it.
The weekly bonding event kicked off on Sunday night at a bowling alley blocks from the team's spring-training facility, on the eve of the first full-squad baseball workout.
"I thought it was really important with the new staff, new general manager, to try to get away from the stigma that this team is individual parts, and pull everybody together and have some fun and have some laughs," Collins said. "You know, this is a long year, starting really tomorrow. This is a marathon. And I wanted these guys to enjoy spring training a little bit and come down here in a relaxed atmosphere, so I came up with bowling."
Said Wright: "I love doing stuff like that anyway, whether it's golfing, bowling. I love getting together with the guys and just having a competition like that. I guess we'll find out soon what kind of bowler I am. But if I'm going to participate, I'm going to try to go out there and win. ... I've picked up the bowling ball a few times this offseason, especially once I heard we're going to have this league. I don't want to be surprised by anything. So I practiced a little bit and I think I'm ready to go."
The 61-year-old Collins suggested he can bowl as high as 190, but arthritis in his right hand can be a drag on his score if he has been overactive throwing baseballs or otherwise overexerting himself at the team's complex.
As for owning a bowling ball with a Mets logo, the manager said: "When I knew I wanted to do the bowling thing, I thought it might be some laughs to have a Mets ball. So I saw the Mets ball in the pro shop here and went and bought it and here we are."
Of course, with the grind of spring training, Collins isn't sure the Mets can have a spring training's worth of weekly competitions.
"We're hoping that it lasts four weeks," he said, "but once we get into games and we start making moves and everything else -- and there may be meetings on Sunday nights -- I think the numbers will change. But tonight we're expecting 50-something guys."