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Wright at home: This All-Star Game is extra special for David Wright

David Wright smiles after the Mets defeated the

David Wright smiles after the Mets defeated the Padres, 11-2, on Opening Day. (April 1, 2013) Credit: David L. Pokress

When David Wright takes the field as the National League's third baseman for Tuesday's All-Star Game at Citi Field, it will be the culmination of a busy eight-month period for the Mets' captain.

In December, he turned 30, signed an eight-year, $138-million contract extension with the team that drafted him and got engaged to model Molly Beers.

In March, he was nicknamed "Captain America" for his exploits in the World Baseball Classic. Upon his return to the Mets, he was named the fourth captain in team history.

So has it all changed him?

"Work ethic-wise, no," manager Terry Collins said. "Everything's exactly the same. Personality? Same. Leadership? He has been a little more vocal than in the past, but still leads truly, truly by example more than anything else. I do believe he's taken extra time in being a little bit more vocal in the clubhouse."

Collins gave Wright credit for calling what is believed to be his first players-only meeting after a galling loss to the Cubs on June 15. The Mets had a comeback win the next day and began a mini-surge that carried into early July. "It's something he has not done before -- since I've been here," Collins said. "I think he has grasped the role of the captain and being the guy that obviously a lot of guys turn to . . . He's certainly aware that he's the voice of the franchise, also. Not just the face. He's the voice. And he's handled it great, as I expected him to."

Said Wright: "I think there's a certain responsibility that comes with that. And I also think you're named captain for a reason, and that doesn't mean that you have to go change and start yelling and screaming and doing things that you didn't do before that.

"I think there's a responsibility that I take very seriously that comes along with being named captain. But at the same time you have to balance it, too, because you can't start changing the person who you are because you have a title now . . . Each year I feel like I'm more and more comfortable to the point where if I need to say something, I'll say it. I'm not going to hold anything back because I don't feel comfortable."

Wright, who bested the Giants' Pablo Sandoval in All-Star votes (6,411,381 to 4,507,219), said he learned from the Mets' previous three captains: Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and John Franco. The latter two are around the Mets often; Carter passed away in 2012. "Obviously, your first few years, you do a lot more listening than you do speaking," Wright said. "I was very fortunate. I got to learn from a different variety of veterans and a different variety of leaders.

"You take different things from different guys. Even during this process, getting to know Gary Carter, the other captains, just to be around Keith Hernandez as much as I have. Getting a chance to be on the same team as Johnny Franco. Having a Hall of Fame teammate in Mike Piazza . . . It's a role that I take seriously. It's a role that I can't put into words how proud I am to be this, and definitely probably one of the greatest honors I'll ever have."

At the All-Star Game, Wright will have an official role (captain of the NL squad in tomorrow night's Home Run Derby) and an unofficial one -- the best player on the home team. In his six previous All-Star Game experiences, he has noticed how the home crowds don't hold back on acknowledging one of their own.

"It sent chills up my spine just listening to Billy Butler getting announced last year or Albert Pujols in St. Louis [2009] or obviously Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium ," he said.

Still, for Wright, the best part is what happens off the field. "You're playing cards and eating lunch with Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer. Those are the lasting memories," he said. "I'll be able to tell my kids and grandkids I played spades with three Hall of Famers."

It's a rebuilding year for the Mets, and their future is uncertain, but Wright said he has no regrets about deciding to re-up with the team a year before he could have tested free agency.

"I know that I'm in this for the long run," he said. "For me, you want to win every game, but it's not just about today. It's about tomorrow, it's about next year, it's about moving forward with a plan that I believe is going to make us a perennial contender. So yeah, what I do and what we do today, you definitely think about not only what's best for today but what's best for tomorrow and the future, no question."

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