It's not easy being the Face of the Franchise when that franchise is the Mets. It's harder still when you're the team's best hitter -- and you play in a notorious pitcher's park, a stadium drawn up from scratch with David Wright already entrenched as the Mets' star attraction.
Yet Wright, aside from the occasional slip, rarely complains about what often can be a very annoying position for the five-time All-Star. Having to watch the team crumble around him because of injuries the past few years also has been a helpless feeling, and when Wright slipped into a career-worst 0-for-20 slump last week, some cracks appeared in that icy-cool demeanor.
In a couple of instances, with long drives dying at the warning track, his bat tosses became more like javelin throws. Rather than flip his helmet toward the dugout, he sent it spinning through the air like a Frisbee.
Wright launched a no-doubter in the first inning, a two-run homer that sailed deep into the leftfield seats. But with two outs in the fourth, Wright pulled a high fly ball off Diamondbacks reliever Josh Collmenter that drifted lazily toward the orange foul pole in left.
As soon as he made contact, Wright watched it from the batter's box, figuring there was no way the ball would end up in fair territory -- and even less of a chance of it winding up on the field. Turns out he was half-right. The ball fell as if it were dropped from the upper deck and landed on a bare patch of concrete roughly three feet inside the foul pole, edging over the green rail fence atop the 335 mark.
"I didn't know that could happen here," manager Terry Collins said. "That ball just kept going and going and going."
Think of it this way -- if the foul pole were a flagstick, Wright's lofty 9-iron shot would have won closest-to-the-pin. More importantly, it was his second home run, giving him his 16th multihomer game and tying him for third on the Mets' all-time list.
With all that Citi Field has taken from him -- the long drives off the Great Wall of Flushing (nod to Howie Rose) and the poorly placed 400-foot fly balls to the right-centerfield canyon -- Wright was asked about the reversal of fortune. As usual, he shrugged.
"I know I hit it pretty good; I just didn't think I was going to be able to keep it fair," Wright said. "But I'll take it."
That's a team-best five home runs for Wright, who is 6-for-14 with three homers, three RBIs and seven runs scored since snapping out of his funk Thursday. He also has four walks during that stretch -- only two strikeouts -- and now enjoys doing his postgame interviews in a sleeveless T-shirt with his giant likeness plastered across the front and back.
Wright denied any belief in the shirt's mojo, but the fashion statement -- like the respiratory virus among the pitching staff -- seems to be contagious. R.A. Dickey, another of the Mets' spiritual leaders, has worn the Wright tee (with sleeves intact) around the clubhouse.
The Mets need Wright's leadership, whether he admits it or not. And the two homers he supplied in Sunday's win were as much of a boost to his own confidence as the team itself.
"I don't think that you're going to beat this park psychologically," Wright said. "You put good swings on it. Some days it's going to go out; some days it's not."
Though that may be true, Wright's history with the Mets carries its own matching set of mental baggage. On Sunday, that load seemed to get a little lighter for him.
"He's a tireless worker," Collins said. "The other day, he told me he spent so much time in the cage, he couldn't believe it. That's his pride. That's his desire to succeed. Nothing is going to stand in his way of playing better.
"I certainly think psychologically, he now knows he can hit the ball out of any part of this park. And I think that's big."