Collins wants to appoint Wright as Mets' captain
All-Star third baseman on board with club's rebuilding plan, believes it can win in '13
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Sometime soon, Mets manager Terry Collins will approach his bosses, Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, with a plan for David Wright. Now that Wright is locked onto the roster for the next eight seasons, Collins wants to explore the possibility of naming his third baseman captain.
"I've never had that before, so I'm not really sure what the process is," the manager said. "I have an idea in my head of how to approach it as we move forward, and I'll start that process. But it's something I need to discuss with Jeff and Sandy first."
It makes sense; leadership is something Wright has displayed with increasing frequency over his nine years with the Mets. He is now easily the longest-tenured Met, and will likely still be here after the majority of his teammates depart.
He is also one of the eldest Mets at 30 years old, certainly the position player most qualified to lead. Wright commands respect.
"He does it right," Collins said. "I just think whether he's named the captain, whether he has a 'C' on his jersey, he's still the main guy here."
Wright clearly was not bluffing last spring when he stood in front of his locker, iced coffee in hand, and said winning a World Series was not his goal -- winning one with the Mets was. The third baseman easily could have played out this season under an expiring contract, explored free agency and used a bidding war to his advantage next winter. He did not, because he wanted to stay.
That's why he sat down separately with Wilpon and Alderson late last season to discuss their financial and baseball operations blueprints. In those conversations, Wright learned that trading R.A. Dickey was a real possibility. He did not flinch. He learned that passing on all of last winter's most expensive free agents was more likely than signing any of them. He did not blink.
The short-term result lies before him in Port St. Lucie: a clubhouse full of twenty-somethings led by super-prospects Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud. In general terms, Wright signed off on that plan.
"I want to be good for the next eight years, not win-at-all-costs for one or two," he said. "I think that that's the direction that we're going, and I applaud that. That's what I want to be a part of. When we get good and we're winning, I want that to carry over for a number of years -- not just a one-time thing."
That does not mean Wright is already giving up on 2013. Quite the contrary. He and Collins are among the most ardent supporters of this year's club, believers of things that most consider far-fetched.
"There's a hundred different reasons why guys are motivated and excited about this season," Wright said. "And I think when you put them together, a room full of those young, energetic players, those types of teams can be scary. No one in that clubhouse believes that we can't win. Everybody is extremely optimistic. Everybody understands that it's going to be a challenge. Nothing's going to come easy. But everybody in there believes we can win and I'm right in the front of the pack. I believe we can win."
Wright pointed to the Mets' playoff run in 2006 as inspiration, as well as the club's early-season success last year. In the past, he has looked to the 2012 Orioles as a model. Even unheralded teams, he believes, can win.
If the Mets become the latest example, Wright will grow rich in ways that his eight-year, $138-million contract could never provide.
"I enjoy success," he said. "I had a great time the first half last year, winning those games, answering questions at the All-Star Game about what we were doing to make us such a good, dangerous team. That was fun for me. It was fun for me six years ago, going to the playoffs and experiencing that for the first time and the only time. That's my motivation. I got a small taste of it and it's addicting."
The locker upon which Wright set his coffee last year no longer exists, moved as part of a two-year clubhouse remodeling project. Wright has a new home near the manager's office at the far end of the room, adjacent to the clubhouse's only empty stall.
"I feel at peace knowing that I can get comfortable here in the locker that I'm in and the parking space that I'm going to have, because I'm going to have it for the next eight years," Wright said. "I like knowing where exactly I'm going to be early February, where exactly I'm going to live -- obviously up in New York. It's nice having that peace of mind. I'm very lucky that I get a chance to do that. There's not many players who get that opportunity.
"But I don't feel any different as far as what I have to do. I understand my role on this team. I understand the leadership role that I have to continue to take on and continue to progress with. But I don't feel any different."