A player with intense pride and a driving work ethic can’t be dismissed, which is what was being done to the Mets’ David Wright after his 0-for-4 night in the season opener. One of those at-bats was when he was caught looking in the ninth inning.
Wright also looked sluggish in the field, both moving in the field and his throwing.
Not surprisingly, there were numerous columns and radio commentaries about Wright being washed up, done in by his balky back which limited him to 10 spring training games and 29 at-bats. Wright said he didn’t care about the criticism, understanding it comes with the territory.
I’ve covered Wright for ten years and know how hard he works and how the criticism can sting. He works as hard as any athlete I’ve covered, and that includes Cal Ripken. When he’s hurting and can’t play as well as he would like it eats at him.
Last year was brutal.
Wright looked so much better in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory in Kansas City. He looked fluid in the field, and at the plate walked twice, singled and stole two bases. He said he felt much better and played the game on instincts.
“It feels good to just kind of play ‘reactionary,’ ” Wright told reporters. “That’s the goal – to just go out there and play the way I’ve always played. … The biggest thing for me is I want to play the game instinctively. I don’t want to think about [the back]. It helps to know I can get up and go hard. I can’t tell you how much fun this is.”
Manager Terry Collins said the steals were all instinct, that Wright understands a pitcher’s delivery time to the plate and how the infielders are positioned as well as the game situation. Above all, the steals told him Wright is feeling better, or at least he felt good against the Royals.
“If he was hurting, he wouldn’t have even tried,” Collins said. “It would have killed him to slide.”
It didn’t kill Wright Tuesday and the more days like that the better for him and the Mets. We can always hope.
ON DECK: Mets Matters: Notebook