Mets third baseman David Wright looks on during a spring...

Mets third baseman David Wright looks on during a spring training workout at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2013) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It was late one night last season and the Mets had just returned from a long road trip.

For most of the weary players, Citi Field was to be just a brief stopping point on the way back from the airport, a place to collect their luggage before finally heading home.

But Ike Davis faced a long night. With his batting average in a freefall, the team brass summoned Davis to a meeting at which they would decide whether he should go to the minors.

When David Wright caught wind of the meeting, he thought back to his days as a young player and what he would have wanted had he been in Davis' shoes. So he waited around at the empty stadium until his teammate learned his fate.

"I wanted to be there to show support,'' Wright said Thursday, when the Mets officially named him the fourth captain in the 51-year history of the franchise. "And to make sure that if he needed somebody to talk to, or yell at, or whatever, that I was there for that.''

In his nine seasons, all spent with the Mets, Wright's leadership has manifested itself out in the open and behind closed doors. But on the day that Wright joined Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and John Franco as the only captains in team history, general manager Sandy Alderson recalled that late night.

"What's memorable about that night is not that Ike stayed and performed well thereafter,'' Alderson said, "but the fact that David hung around to make sure that if the decision was otherwise, he'd have somebody there to help him through his disappointment.''

Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said the decision to name Wright captain essentially was made during the offseason, when he signed an eight-year, $138-million deal.

"It was the right time,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Wright was approached about the captaincy shortly after his return from the World Baseball Classic last week but requested a few days to get the blessing of his teammates.

"I was always hoping that this day would come,'' said Wright, who joins the Yankees' Derek Jeter and the White Sox's Paul Konerko as one of three players in the big leagues recognized as a team captain.

Wright holds the franchise record for hits, runs, walks, RBIs, doubles and total bases, but he called Thursday one of his proudest days as a Met. Nevertheless, he insisted that he will keep his focus on leading by example.

He has no plans to alter his low-key style or to call team meetings or to adorn his jersey with the captain's "C" because, as Wright said, "the uniform is uniform for a reason.'' Instead, he wants to handle his duties one-on-one with his teammates, just as he did when he sought their blessing last week, and just as he did one late night at Citi Field last season.

"He cares,'' said Davis, whose bat roared to life after his near-demotion. "Often, superstars probably wouldn't be there. They're worrying about themselves. That's why they're that good.''

Wright said he wouldn't have known what to say to Davis had he been sent to the minors. But on that night, the words wouldn't have mattered.

"The best things that you say are things that you don't plan on saying,'' Wright said. "Obviously, in that situation, there are no words that are going to make him feel better. But I think sometimes you don't have to say anything.''

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