All-Star leadership role a natural fit for Wright
Set to bat fourth in Midsummer Classic, Mets captain also heading Derby team
NEW YORK -- David Wright walked into the Mets' clubhouse at Citi Field as usual on Monday, headed to his locker and went about his day. His routine might have been somewhat the same, yet this was no normal afternoon. It was All-Star Monday, the day before the big event, and Wright was playing host.
"It feels good to walk into your home clubhouse, say hello to the same familiar faces that you say hello to every day, have the same locker, and kind of sit back and just look around and enjoy it," said Wright, a seven-time All-Star and two-time Home Run Derby participant. "You're talking about some of the best players in the game in one room, sitting around just hanging out.
"I hope there's more moments like that in the next couple days where I can just kind of take a deep breath, exhale, and see how fortunate I am to be in this position."
Just as Wright has become the face of the franchise for the Mets, in a way he is the face of Major League Baseball this week in Flushing. As the longest-tenured Met, the best hitter on his team and the most accomplished third baseman in the National League, Wright was an obvious choice to make his seventh Midsummer Classic alongside first-time All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey.
But Wright's duties do not end there. He must participate in All-Star events and multiple news conferences. He must serve as the Home Run Derby captain. He may not have the most eye-popping numbers of any All-Star player, but he is the one who so many fans at Citi Field are coming to see.
"David Wright is the player's player," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's the man's man in our clubhouse. He personifies exactly what you want a Major League player to be."
Collins, who is also spending his week at Citi Field as a member of NL manager Bruce Bochy's coaching staff, raved mostly about Wright's leadership. Since becoming team captain in March, Wright has become a more vocal leader, most notably calling a players-only meeting after a game on June 15.
At the time, the Mets were 24-39. They have gone 17-11 since.
"When I talked to [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] about making him the captain, it wasn't about making speeches," Collins said. "It was because what he does to get ready for a game is second to none. If you're a young player and you just follow David Wright around, do what he does to get ready to play a game, you're going to play better."
More and more, players around the league talk about Wright in the reverential tones reserved for stars of a generation. A full decade of consistent baseball will do that for a player, particularly when combined with a sterling off-field reputation.
Already the franchise leader in many major statistical categories, Wright has batted .301 with 217 home runs over the first 9 1/2 years of his big league career. Playing this season with inconsistent protection around him in the lineup, Wright has hit .304 with 13 homers, 44 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
"He's the captain of the New York Mets," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "He embodies that. He's a huge role model for a lot of kids. He's a consistent player and he's always going out there and giving it his all, and he's doing it in New York on the big stage."
Largely for those reasons, Bochy selected Wright to hit fourth in his starting lineup Tuesday, reasoning that Home Run Derby captains should hit cleanup. Wright blushed at the assertion, considering he has developed into more of a pure hitter and less of a classic slugger over his decade in New York.
But Wright also understands his responsibilities in the All-Star Game differ from those in his daily life as a Met.
"I'm not sure about the hitting fourth," Wright said. "It's probably more of a hometown-type thing, but I appreciate it. Hopefully the butterflies aren't too big and I go out there and play well, because I'd really like to go out there and play well for those fans."
Between Wright and Harvey, Mets fans should have plenty to watch during Tuesday's game. And despite all the changes this franchise has gone through in recent years, Wright's status as an All-Star centerpiece should come as no surprise.
As Collins noted, "We all know he's a star."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.