Days like Monday are what David Wright signed up for when, during that late lunch/ early dinner offseason meeting with Sandy Alderson, the third baseman agreed to an eight-year, $138-million extension that essentially makes him a Met for life.
Perhaps Wright didn't envision it starting on Opening Day of his first regular-season game as captain.
"If we score 11 runs a game, they're not going to need me very much at all," Wright said after an 11-2 victory over the Padres. "It helps everybody out when you just have a well-rounded game like that. Kind of mission accomplished as far as everybody kind of playing together."
Wright wants to be Captain Contagious, spreading his optimism to players on a team that outside observers do not anticipate will be capable of many victories. The Mets left spring training with more questions than answers: a suspect outfield, how to fill the rotation spot left by an injured Johan Santana, even questions about Wright's availability for Opening Day after suffering a rib-cage strain in the World Baseball Classic.
"I knew I was going to be ready," he said. "I know what I'm capable of and not capable of . . . It's the first time I played nine innings in a while, so I'll probably be a little sore, but for the most part, I felt really good."
All the negative talking points seemed moot, at least on Day 1. "Offensively, defensively, pitching, the keys to success, and we did all things well today," Wright said.
His contribution -- two stolen bases, an RBI, a run scored, two nice plays in the field -- was trumped by his teammates.
"This is going to be a fun team to root for," Wright said. "Obviously, it's tough to guarantee wins and losses, but if you're a fan of baseball, kind of a purist, this is going to be a fun team to watch."
Wright didn't need to get a big hit in this game. "We're going to try to make his job easier the best we can," said Collin Cowgill, whose seventh-inning grand slam earned him the larger postgame crowd around his locker. "He has to have the load off his shoulders, too; we don't want that pressure on him."
Wright had praise for the outfield. "They were good if you like grand slams and driving in runs," he said of Cowgill and Marlon Byrd, who had two hits and two RBIs. "Collin is a big kind of boost of energy for us. I think that's going to be good for us over 162 games. Marlon, you look at the back of the baseball card, he's had some very, very good years."
After such a gratifying start to the season, Cowgill was eager to embrace Wright's longterm view of what the Mets can become, saying, "He believes in this team and this organization. For a guy like him to sign that long of a deal, it just means he really wants to bring the championship to this side of New York and lead us there."