Hitting a meager 10 home runs and seeing his slugging percentage plummet nearly 100 points last season was hard enough on David Wright. But all the losing - now that was insufferable.
"The bitter part of last season was really just playing out the season the last few weeks," Wright said Wednesday. "That was no fun, and it's something I don't think anyone wants to experience again."
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After giving 25 area kids who have excelled in community service a tour of the Mets' Citi Field clubhouse, Wright sounded ready to grab a helmet and bat and take a few swings. Anything to remove the bitter taste of 2009 as quickly as possible.
"The expectations here are we plan on winning," he said. "We plan on making the playoffs."
For that to happen, Wright has to return to the player who was a slugger from 2004 through 2008. He believes he's on the right path because he identified a problem with his mind-set last season. When Wright struggled, he panicked.
"Last year, more than any other year, I tinkered with things that shouldn't have been tinkered with," he said. "Instead of riding it out, sticking with it and understanding there's going to be some ups and downs, when I got into a little slump instead of making minor adjustments, I overhauled things. That was a mistake I made."
So his work this offseason has been focused on finding his old swing and conditioning his mind to stay the course. He knows when the first slump of 2010 comes, he has to be strong-willed enough not to make drastic changes.
"That's the biggest thing, when you go in and start messing with things you shouldn't mess with," he said. "You're learning a completely different thing over and over again. And if that doesn't work out, you're trying something new. So it feels like every week you're up there with a different approach, something you're working on, instead of just knowing what got you here and sticking with that."
As for Citi Field, Wright said you still can be a home run hitter there despite its dimensions.
"First of all, if you hit it, it's going to go," he said. "We had plenty of visiting guys come in and prove that. And secondly, you just have to stick to your guns. You don't have to necessarily change anything or drastically change anything. You want to adapt to your ballpark, but you don't want to start changing your swing or change your approach based on where you play."
Wright plans to head to Port St. Lucie in early February. In his head, it's almost as if he's already there.
"I expect us to be much better than last year, obviously," he said, "and my goal is to get back to that level where we're expected to go to the playoffs each year."