Captain David Wright likes Mets' character, clubhouse
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Team captain David Wright isn't sure how an intangible issue like character factors into wins and losses and the divisional race in the National League East.
Still, the career-long Met is impressed by the leadership qualities in the clubhouse around him.
''I've never been around this good a mix of veteran guys in the clubhouse, but it's also the attitude of the younger guys to go along with the depth we have. As far as the kind of clubhouse that we have, I'll put our character guys that we have in there up against anybody,'' the 34-year-old third baseman said after a morning workout.
The Mets have assembled a clubhouse full of players who have taken on leadership roles.
Infielder Neil Walker emerged as a strong voice last season in his first year with the organization, speaking up and leading by example when Wright's season ended due to injury. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes signed a big contract and began working out earlier than usual this past offseason.
Jay Bruce has the most tenuous position with the club, having been shopped in the winter after being acquired from Cincinnati for a playoff push. Yet Bruce, expected to be the opening day right fielder, has been mentioned for picking up a first baseman's mitt to spell Lucas Duda on occasion. The all-star outfielder dutifully said he would ''do whatever (the Mets) asked.''
Jose Reyes, whose relationship with the Mets began in 1999 at the age of 16, is another player the club brought back. Reyes, 33, has been a versatile performer for the team and also serves in his second stint with the organization as a mentor for prized prospect Amed Rosario, a fellow Dominican shortstop who is waiting in the wings.
''I'm not sure if (character) gets you any more wins over the course of a year, but it sure makes it more enjoyable coming to the ballpark and going through spring training with one another when you have the great personalities in there that seem to mesh well together,'' Wright said.
Unlike past seasons, players such Walker, Cespedes, Bruce and Reyes have returned to wear the blue and orange another year.
Walker and Cespedes chose to stay with the organization rather than seek longer and perhaps more lucrative deals somewhere else. The Mets picked up Bruce's option as insurance in case Cespedes left, plus used their option to keep Reyes, a former farmhand who played with the club for nine seasons.
''It's like a brotherhood, especially with all the familiar faces. That's something we haven't had in a while, and that comes along with winning and when you have that consistency. When things aren't going well, you have a lot of that turnover,'' Wright said.
''It's not coincidence that you see a lot of the same faces now as you did toward the end of last year. I think the front office and ownership really like what we had going in the clubhouse and what they saw on the field. Looking around the room is an extension of last year.''
Mets manager Terry Collins echoed Wright's observation about character and said he noted the leadership when he addressed the team in their first meeting.
''I was talking to them about the leadership in our locker room, which is tremendous. I looked around the room and there was Reyes, Wright, (Asdrubal) Cabrera, Cespedes, (Curtis) Granderson, Walker . and this is a pretty impressive group of guys sitting in here. And then we've got that young talent coming up,'' said Collins, smiling.
''It's a great mix.''
NOTES: Wright said he felt fine - ''So far, so good'' - after his first day of throwing following eight months of not tossing a ball. He said the short-term throwing program is to toss every other day. . Reliever Fernando Salas, another player the Mets brought back, impressed Collins, who said he could envision the righty working the eighth inning. ''Strikes. Confidence and strikes. He's not afraid to throw his pitches over the plate,'' Collins replied when asked what stood out about Salas. . The Mets held a clinic with the Special Olympics after Monday's workout.