Q&A With David Wright

In an organization trying to rebuild, and stocked with prospects such as Royce Ring, Scott Kazmir, and Jose Reyes, David Wright had gone somewhat unnoticed. In 2004, he is finally getting the attention he deserves. He has been a hot topic of talk radio and with a batting average consistently around .350, it's not hard to understand why. NYF Club Members can learn a little more about D-Wright right now!

The New York Mets are badly in need of some offense and defense. They have made 49 errors this season and Jose Reyes is no where in sight. David Wright represents hope both defensively and offensively. Scouts say he is already capable of playing a good major league third base and in time may develop in to a great defensive player. His offensive numbers speak for themselves. His OBP is .460, best in the league, and he has 19 stolen bases good enough for second in the league. He drives the ball well to all fields and has good power. He's 4th in the league in runs, 2nd in Hits, 3rd in Doubles, 5th in Home Runs, 4th in Total Bases, 1st in Walks, and 2nd in Slugging percentage.

Mets management has insisted that they will keep Wright in AA for the season and let him progress, but with Reyes out and Wiggington learning to play second, there is an opening at third that Wright might be able to fill.

I entered the clubhouse three hours before Tuesday's game and the room was tense and the competition was fierce. Hitters were staring down pitchers and trying to think what their next move should be. This has nothing to do with baseball but nevertheless it is taken very seriously. There is a round robin, double elimination, casino tournament in progress that almost every man on the roster including Ho Jo is a part of. No one in the room takes it more seriously than Dave Bacani and David Wright. Wright sat down with me immediately after losing a heartbreaker to Bacani.

NYF: When did you and Bacani start playing cards?

Wright: We started probably last year in St. Lucie. It really escalated this year though. We began a tournament at the beginning of the year. It's hard to explain. It's seven, seven game series. He came out triumphant at the beginning of the first tournament but this one's a little more even.

NYF: You guys ever play anything else? Are there any poker tournaments going on in the clubhouse?

Wright: Ahh every once in a while. There's a little bit of spades a little bit of poker but casino is the number one game by far.

NYF: Who's a better player.

Wright: "Hey Bacani, He just asked me who's better?" Well, I'd like to think me but the number's show something a little different right now. But the second series is not over.

NYF: Statistics don't always tell the whole story.

Wright: You're absolutely right stats aren't everything. Some people get lucky cards. We're two of the best in the clubhouse, but statistics have him slightly ahead right now.

NYF: Do either of you ever try and cheat?

Wright: No we're both honest. Every once in a while we'll do something to see if the other one is paying attention, but we'd never go through with it.

NYF: O.K. Let's talk about baseball. Statistically this is your best year. Do you feel more comfortable and confident at the plate than you ever have before?

Wright: Absolutely. Baseball is a game of confidence. If you go out there and think the pitcher is better than you or the pitcher can get you out then you have already beaten yourself. You have to have a certain swagger when you go to the plate. That's the way I've gone to the plate this year. I feel that every at bat I'm going to be successful. I think as a hitter you have to go out there with a certain swagger, nothing that shows you're too confident but you got to go out there with a little aura and let the pitcher be intimidated of you.

NYF: So, in your mind, there's no pitcher in AA right now who scares you or makes you say, "Whoa, I don't want to face this guy"

Wright: Absolutely not. And I think that's how hitters beat themselves a lot. When you hear Baseball America or any other publication hype up a certain player and then guys get sacred of someone, they can't hit as well. Of course there are pitchers who are tougher than others, but there's not one guy that comes to mind that I feel I couldn't hit.

NYF: Your last year of High School you hit .544. Do you feel more comfortable at the plate now because your hitting has improved, or back then because the pitching was inferior and you were much better than everyone else on the field?

Wright: I've progressed quite a bit since I've been drafted. I've gotten to work with some of the best hitting coaches in the game. I'm finally starting to learn my swing. Ho Jo [Howard Johnson] and OB [Ken Oberkfell] both taught me to know my swing and taught me how to correct my own swing, rather than have a hitting coach stand over me and say "this is what you're doing wrong."

NYF: You were with Ho Jo last year right?

Wright: Yeah and during my big slump last year I learned a lot about my swing. I learned a lot about me as a player because if you can still have confidence as a hitter when you're batting .167 in a month then you know you can get through just about anything. It builds character and hopefully it will teach me how to get out of my next slump much quicker.

NYF: Is there any one piece of advice that the coaches gave you to help you get out of the slump? Did they adjust your stance at all, or was it more of a mental thing?

Wright: I think the best advice that I've gotten is that baseball is simple: there are 144 games in a season and if you go home and dwell on one game or a few at bats then those few at bats will build in to twenty and then those twenty build in to a month. Everybody is going to slump during the season, but instead of slumping for a week or twenty at bats, if you don't have your head on straight, that slump will prolong. But if you know there are going to be some bumps on the road and you don't try to change a lot of things or get too crazy about being in a slump I think you'll be more successful.

NYF: Back in High School, you gave an interview and said your favorite subject was anatomy so it's clear that you're insane. You also said that Robin Ventura was your favorite player because "he's composed on and off the field." Do you have a favorite player now?

Wright: If I had to pick it would be Scott Rolen or Mike Sweeney. Those are guys that I look up to and try to emulate.

NYF: You grew up a Mets fan in Virginia. How did that happen?

Wright: The AAA team is out in Norfolk, so we used to go out and watch a lot of Mets games.

NYF: How close was your home to Norfolk?

Wright: About 10 minutes.

NYF: How do you feel about the Expos possibly moving to Virginia? Is Virginia ready for a pro team?

Wright: Of course! I think it would be very exciting. Virginia, especially my area, is developing quickly. We have a lot of home grown talent. BJ Upton is from Virginia and Jason Dubois who is in the Cubs outfield right now is from Virginia Beach. He took over for Sosa when he went on the D.L. On this team, Lavigne is from my area so it's becoming a baseball hotbed.

NYF: I was in New York City this past week and you are being hailed as the savior to a struggling lineup. Does the pressure or the hype ever get to you?

Wright: No, not at all. To be honest with you I put more pressure on myself than any publication or any type of media can put on me. So, I know that if I go out there and play my game things will work out.

NYF: You started out the year hitting six doubles in your first six games. You were really hot. Did you notice pitchers starting to pitch to you a little differently as the year has progressed? Did they respect you a little more?

Wright: Absolutely. Well, I don't know if it's because of respect. Early on in the season I was hitting the ball the other way very well, so they tried to bust me in with hard stuff, fastballs and sinkers. Baseball is a game of adjustments and the pitcher is going to make adjustments on you so you have to make adjustments as a hitter. So you play a little cat and mouse game with the pitchers.

NYF: Before you were drafted by the Mets you were accepted to Georgia Tech. Do you root for them in the college World Series?

Wright: Oh, absolutely, The other guys kid me because I root for them. Bacani gives me a hard time. He says I never went to school there so I can't root for them. They get on me because I wear T-shirts and hats with the Georgia Tech logo on it, but I follow their program a lot. I've been running my mouth to McGninley because Texas Tech is in the same regional as them and that's where Blake went to school. But it's all in good fun.

NYF: Do you think that when the time comes for you to leave Binghamton you'll need or want some time in AAA, or will you be ready for the majors?

Wright: Well, I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to play in AAA. Of course, that's home. It would be fun to go full circle. It would be nice to play in front of friends and family. I have parents and some grandparents and relatives in that area so it would be fun.

NYF: But in all likelihood you'll be a September call up to Shea. If you get to the majors this year will you be disappointed if you have to go back to the minors, or is that just part of the game?

Wright: Nothing is set in stone that says I'll get a September call up or anything like that so to look that far ahead is a little premature. But the goal for me is that when ever the Mets feel I'm ready to go up there I do my best and help the team win. Of course, when you get to the big leagues you don't want to give that up, so I guess to answer the second part of your question when the Mets feel I'm ready, I'll do everything I can to stay up there and not bounce around.

NYF: Last year at St. Lucie, you hit .244 at home and .301 on the road. Now St. Lucie is a pitchers park, but did anything else contribute to that difference. Were you uncomfortable in St. Lucie?

Wright: The organization thought that I might have been overworking myself at home. I was taking massive amounts of batting practice and ground balls and they thought I might have been wearing myself out before games. They cut me back on that at the end of the year and I started swinging the bat much better. I'm fortunate the Mets caught that. I learned that practice is more about quality than quantity.

NYF: You guys are in first place right now. You had a five game winning streak and then you lost 8-0 on Sunday. Do you feel it's helpful to have a rain delay to give the team another day to put a bad loss behind you?

Wright: It can work both ways. The team's been playing very well so anytime you get rained out it could disrupt the roll, but like you said we did play pretty poorly on Sunday so I think it was good. We had some guys with tired legs that got a little rest. Some guys went fishing or took in a movie. It's good to have a day where you can relax and come to the park the next day with fresh legs.

NYF: Coming into this year, the scouting report on you was a guy who had some good power potential but was never really going to hit for average and needed to work on hitting righties. This year you are hitting .301 against righties and .452 against lefties. So is that way your way of giving the finger to scouting reports or did you also realize a problem and do something consciously to change?

Wright: You can't look too much in to the scouting reports. My biggest goal was to become more consistent. Last year I had ups and downs. It was a roller coaster ride. This year I'm concentrating on not getting too high on the ups and not hitting those valleys too hard. If I can become more consistent I feel I'll be all right. I feel defensively I'm pretty consistent and I can steal some bags every now and then so I just need to level off my hitting.

NYF: You are not the fastest guy on the team, but you are second in the league in stolen bases.

Wright: So who says I'm not the fastest on the team?

NYF: Wayne Lydon.

Wright: Well, we will have to race one day. No there are a lot of guys faster than me. Stealing bases isn't just speed. It's about being smart and picking your spots. I try and cheat as much as I can. I try to get catcher's signs, run on offspeed pitches. I look at the pitcher's grips. If I see a changeup grip, I try and run on that.

NYF: Do you care if it's a lefty or a righty pitcher?

Wright: No, that doesn't make too much difference to me. I run on certain counts. I don't have Wayne Lydon or Angel Pagan speed so I have to be smart about it and pick my spots and have the attitude of I'm going to steal and you're not going to throw me out.

NYF: OB is a really aggressive manager. Has that helped you not just when it comes to stealing bases but going first to third or first to home?

Wright: Oh yeah, definitely. I think one reason why this team is so successful is because we are very aggressive. Sometimes we run ourselves out of big innings but the flip side of that is we put a lot of pressure on the defense and the defense has to be on their toes otherwise we will steal some runs. We like to get guys in scoring position so that the middle of the lineup can drive them in. Guys like Prentice and Huber have done a good job of that.

NYF: Does the competition between you and Bacani ever carry over to the field. Do you guys try and outhit each other?

Wright: That's the good thing about this clubhouse. We don't have any selfish guys. Everybody cheers for everybody. We don't have guys that bring down the team when they struggle. When one guy struggles, someone else steps up and gets the big hit. Everyone wants to hit in key situations. We just don't have a couple guys carrying this team and I think that's what makes us so successful. This core group of guys has come up together and you can see a chemistry here. I wasn't in Brooklyn but they won the championship there. We made the playoffs in Cap city, in St. Lucie we won the championship, and this year we're in first place. I mean that's got to tell you that not only can we swing the bats well and play good defense and have good pitching but we know how to win. We expect to win when we go out on the field. We don't go out there just thinking about our own development or our own four at bats, which is a big factor of course, but we go out there to win and we want to win championships.

We would like to thank David Wright for taking the time to sit down with NYfansonly.com for this interview.

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