The last at-bat of David Wright’s career with the Mets in the fourth inning Saturday night wasn’t lost on Marlins first baseman Peter O’Brien.
He knew it probably was Wright’s last opportunity to reach base, but O’Brien didn’t think it was his job to help make that happen as he caught Wright’s foul pop-up.
And Wright agreed. “We catch the ball,’’ he said Sunday. “You wouldn’t want it any other way.’’
Wright said he sent a signed ball to O’Brien with the inscription “You should have let it drop’’ after hearing that O’Brien’s teammates were razzing him.
“I spoke to him when he walked the first time up,’’ O’Brien said. “He’s obviously a great player, had a great career, very well respected by everyone, including me.’’
O’Brien also understood the fans’ angry reaction when he caught the ball. “Definitely,’’ he said. “I’m just playing the game.’’
The boos for O'Brien were still in force Sunday, and the game ended when he lined out to right as Noah Syndergaard concluded a complete game in the Mets' 1-0 victory.
As he tentatively tracked the ball, it may have appeared that O’Brien was deciding if he wanted to prolong Wright's at-bat, but he said that was not the case. “There is a lot of foul ground over there,’’ he said, “I thought I was closer to the stands than I was, so I kinda jumped for it a little bit.”
Major League Baseball does not condone sentimentality being shown during in-game situations. That dates to Sept. 19, 1968, when Tigers pitcher Denny McLain — in the eighth inning of a 6-2 victory that lifted his record to 31-5 — admittedly telegraphed a pitch to Mickey Mantle, who was playing his last game in Detroit and needed one home run to surpass Jimmie Foxx (534) on the all-time list. Mantle, briefly confused by what McLain was indicating to him, hit his 535th homer on a belt-high pitch. McLain was sent a letter of reprimand by then-commissioner William Eckert.
In the 2015 All-Star Game, National League starting pitcher Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals indicated that he grooved a pitch to retiring Derek Jeter, who hit a leadoff double for the American League. Wainwright later walked that back, saying, “I hope people realize I'm not intentionally giving up hits out there.’’