Every ballclub needs a solid captain to succeed in Major League Baseball.
The New York Mets have arguably the best commander in David Wright, and he proved why during his stay in Las Vegas.
Most Mets rushed into the dugout after batting practice, bypassing the horde of fans that arrived two hours before the first pitch at Cashman Field on Friday with hopes of receiving an autograph.
David Wright, who has been called Captain America, saved the day.
The seven-time All-Star third baseman first signed autographs for the fans with the VIP badges. Then he made his way toward the crowd near the batter’s circle while accepting multiple interview requests from the media.
Wright could have called it a day after the interviews and gone into the locker room to prepare for the final exhibition game of the spring. But he couldn’t deny the fans calling his name near the first-base line.
“It’s good for us (to be in Las Vegas),” Wright said. “We’ve been in spring training for so long it gets so mundane in Florida, so it’s good to be able to change the scenery a little bit and to come out here, especially when the fans come out and they’re cheering like the way they are.”
Wright and the Mets ended spring training with an 8-1 victory against the Cubs to split the Big League Weekend two-game series.
The Mets and the Cubs go into the season with high expectations after meeting in the National League Championship Series last year.
“For us, it’s a nice little road trip to come here before the season starts to kind of get like a dress rehearsal,” Wright said. “When you get in here to get in a pregame routine, staying in a hotel routine, getting up and get ready for a game, so it’s been a good trip for us.”
It wasn’t long ago that Wright was the talk of the Big Apple with a bright future ahead. He’s now the mentor to the young core of players that made an impact during the Mets’ run to the World Series in October.
Many of those youngsters came through Las Vegas with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the 51s.
Star pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are on the long list of former 51s who are now helping the Mets in the big leagues.
“Las Vegas has been pretty fortunate, they’ve seen some great arms and seen some great players come through,” said Wright, who made his MLB debut with the Mets in 2004. “I know the guys that have played here (Las Vegas) have gotten a nice test before they come to New York, because if you can pitch here and get outs here, being a good hitters’ ballpark, you’re ready for the big leagues. It’s a nice affiliation for us.”
The Mets were expected to be playoffs regulars after the young nucleus of Wright and shortstop Jose Reyes got the team to the NLCS in 2006. After many disappointing seasons and many new faces, Wright and the Mets finally returned to playoffs last season.
“I’ve been here for so long that I think it’s nice to be able to go to the World Series last year and to be able to reward New York for all the fans that stuck around us for some of those thinner years,” said Wright, 33.
Wright called the series against the Cubs a great test before the Mets open the regular season, but he also made sure to enjoy himself in Las Vegas.
“Being here gives us a chance to get some nice dinners and hang out a little bit and enjoy the city,” Wright said.