Wright says scandal could affect club

Mets third baseman David Wright waits in Mets third baseman David Wright waits in the on-deck circle as he prepares to bat in the bottom of the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at CitiField. (Sept. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

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David Wright admits to not fully understanding the details of the financial problems the Mets are facing now that the Madoff trustee is seeking $1 billion in damages from the owners of the team. But the third baseman knows it's going to be a major issue this season, even with the official start of spring training still a week away.

"Who knows the effect it will have on the team and the organization?" Wright told Newsday by phone Monday from Port St. Lucie. "From Day 1 of spring training, it's the biggest question that's going to be asked. And I don't think anybody really has the answers."

Wright, 28, has been the face of the franchise almost since his arrival at the end of the 2004 season, and he's weathered plenty of storms.

"I just think that any time you have to answer questions that don't have anything to do with playing the game of baseball - whether it's a manager on the hot seat or the financial situation of the owners - these things can affect the clubhouse in some way," Wright said.

Despite the magnitude of the problem, however, Wright is optimistic, something he's learned from being on a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2006 and posted a losing record the last three seasons.

"I'm confident that they'll be able to get everything resolved," Wright said. "If they're looking for investors, I'm sure there's going to be some interested people out there."

The homegrown Wright, the team's first-round pick in 2001, is the closest to the Mets' ownership group, and he reached out to chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon last week.

"I just think with everything they've done for me, it's important, with the tough times they're going through now, to let them know that I support them," Wright said.

Wright is aware that the Madoff scandal has contaminated the outside perception of the Mets, but as a player, he's trying to focus on his day-to-day responsibilities. As usual, the four-time All-Star was among the early arrivals in Port St. Lucie, almost two weeks before the Feb. 19 reporting date for position players, and he's hopeful that nothing much has changed.

"The Wilpon family, along with Saul Katz, has never shied away from spending money in trying to put a winning team on the field," Wright said. "Even this year, with people talking about how they haven't spent much, we still have one of the highest payrolls in baseball."

When asked if he believes the Mets will continue to spend at a high level in the wake of the trustee's suit, which was revealed Friday, he chose a wait-and-see approach.

Said Wright, "I think we'll be able to answer that question better at the end of the coming year."

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Andress strength coach. The Mets declined to make any changes with their doctors or training staff this offseason, but they did announce the hiring of a new strength and conditioning coach Monday. Brad Andress, 48, spent nine seasons with the Colorado Rockies, from 2000-08. This will mark his 20th season in the majors.

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