Wait and 'C': David Wright sure acts like Mets' captain, but no official announcement yet
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright clasped his hands and spoke in measured tones. He looked comfortable on the padded seats in the dugout at Tradition Field, even leaning back a few times before staring straight into the firing line of cameras before him.
"Everybody in there believes that we can win, and I'm right in the front of that pack," Wright said Monday, shortly after the Mets completed their first full workout as a squad. "I believe we can win."
Wright's appearance represented yet another example of his new role with the Mets. Really, it shouldn't be completely foreign. Even before he signed an eight-year, $138-million extension in November, Wright's prominence within the organization had started to grow. But with the extension, and in a clubhouse with few established names, Wright's standing has become unquestioned.
All that seems to be missing is the "C" on his uniform, a designation reserved for those who are officially named team captain.
"Whether he's named the captain, whether he has a 'C' on his jersey, he's still the main guy here," manager Terry Collins said.
On a day in which Collins believed it was important to set the tone, Wright carried himself in much the same way that has reinforced his reputation as a leader by example, hustling from field to field to participate in various drills.
Once finished, he propped up the Mets' young crop of players. Within the organization, the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles have emerged as popular examples of what can be possible for teams that enter a season with few expectations. They also point to baseball's expanded playoff system, which created a larger pool of teams that found themselves in contention for a postseason spot.
Principal owner Fred Wilpon said last week that the Mets have the primary ingredient to emerge as a surprise contender: strong starting pitching.
Wright continued to hammer home the message. When asked about the Mets' unsuccessful efforts to trade for outfielder Justin Upton -- which would have cost either Zack Wheeler or Matt Harvey -- he touted the value of the pitching prospects.
"This is no knock on Justin, who is a great player," Wright said. "But I've seen a couple of bullpens from Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, and I wouldn't have traded them, either."
Though he's never faced a similar situation in his previous stints as a manager, Collins said he has a process in mind regarding whether the Mets will officially name Wright the captain. He plans to discuss the issue with general manager Sandy Alderson and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
With the Mets expected to get younger as the season wears on -- prospects such as Wheeler and catcher Travis d'Arnaud are waiting in the wings -- Collins said he envisions asking Wright to take on even more leadership responsibilities.
But even without the official designation, Collins said Wright already has behaved like a captain.
"He may not hold team meetings," Collins said, "but I'll tell you what he does do. He does some one-on-one stuff. He'll take a guy to dinner. Or go over, sit with him, have lunch with him. He's done it several times already since he's been down here over the last couple of weeks. That's where I think he's taken on that role."