Apr 06

April 6.10: Wright steps up for his team.

David Wright spoke in basic, but his smile told a much more complex story.

First inning, Citi Field, yesterday afternoon and Wright was rounding the bases after hitting a two-run, opposite-field homer off Josh Johnson … his smile carrying him as much as his legs.

Wright, who seemingly talked himself out of hitting for power early in the season, and later that lost summer was felled with a concussion after taking a Matt Cain fastball to his head, had just gotten the Mets off to a fast start in turning the page from a disastrous 2009.

Could one swing of the bat set the tone for a summer?

“I don’t put too much stock into home runs,’’ said Wright, who hit only ten of them last year, one of them last Opening Day he was quick to remind when the “tone’’ word surfaced.

Logic says no, that Mets 7, Marlins 1, was simply one game, but the game gave us a glimpse of what could happen when Wright’s team puts it all together for an afternoon. Yesterday was a blue print of what needs to happen.

The Mets need pitching more than power and Johan Santana was superb. And, with their suspect rotation, they need the bullpen late and Fernando Nieve gave them two sterling innings and Francisco Rodriguez was perfect.

Last summer, the Mets hit a major league low 95 homers – the only team not to hit 100 – so their offense must generate runs and take advantage of what is offered. So many opportunities were wasted last year, but yesterday they parlayed three Florida errors into four runs. A gift, yes, but too many times last year they came away empty in similar spots.

The new guys, Gary Matthews, Jason Bay and Rod Barajas had two hits apiece, and Matthews showed he can cover center until Carlos Beltran’s return.

“I think it was an all-around good effort,” Wright said. “We caught the ball, we pitched well and obviously had some timely hitting. You can’t ask for much more than that, first game of the season.’’

Wright is correct, it’s only one game, but it’s better than if it had been one game the other way. For a team coming off two late season collapses and a free-fall summer, that played with frustrating mediocrity this spring, winning sure as hell beats losing.

“By no stretch of the imagination are we where we want to be right now,’’ said manager Jerry Manuel, who looks at winning in a more personal, job-preserving vein. “The important thing is that as you put the pieces into place that you win games.

“We played well. We played all 27 outs.’’

There will be times this summer when they don’t. All teams, even champions, have those moments. And, there will be times this summer when the smile Wright wore yesterday will be a frown.

But, it was finally nice to see him smile.

“It’s good to see David get started,’’ Jeff Francoeur said. “David has to step up. It has to be his team.’’

And, yesterday it was.

Aug 18

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #119; Braves in town.



Old punching bag Ryan Church is in town with the Atlanta Braves which means a lot of David Wright questions about concussions. The Mets didn’t handle the Church injury well last season, but to his credit Church said he felt he could play and never backed off those statements. He could have done a lot of bitching and moaning but never did.

There was always a lot of anticipation to Braves at Mets, but the only suspense this time is wondering if the 55-63 Mets could fall 10 games below .500 if they were to be swept.

A couple of starts ago he was the Good Ollie in San Diego, but Oliver Perez, as has been his history, took a step back in his last start against Arizona with six walks in 5 1/3 innings. More disturbing is Perez’s attitude that “walks are part of the game.” Well, so is getting outs. He ought to try that for a change.

Year One of the three-year, $36-million bust of a contract. Re-signed for his physical gifts, Perez’s downfall has been his inability to focus and to drift away from his mechanics, which lead to wildness and frequently the big inning. There are days when you can’t touch him and other days when you’d like to wring his neck.

And, tonight?

I don’t have the vaguest idea. He is 6-4 lifetime against the Braves, which is promising, then I look at Derek Lowe and the line-up he’ll be facing. Only one player, Luis Castillo, is at his Opening Day position.

Here’s the line-up:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Gary Sheffield, LF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Omir Santos, C
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Oliver Perez, LP

Lowe (12-7, 4.08 ERA), whom the Mets by-passed to re-sign Perez, has won four consecutive decisions, and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in a start since July 5. He is 2-2 lifetime against the Mets.