Wright visits kids at Children's Hospital
Won't get into verbal war with Phillies; open to motivated Manny
NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. -- Chances are the paths of David Wright and Cole Hamels will intersect Sunday evening. Chances are the Mets' third baseman and the Phillies' ace will be in each other's presence for a few hours at the New York Baseball Writers' dinner in Manhattan for the first time since Hamels tactlessly suggested that the Mets' collective epiglottis didn't function as well as it might have during the final weeks of the 2007 and '08 seasons.
And when that happens, when Wright finally comes face to face with the opponent who impugned the Mets' baseball manhood last month, you can bet he'll have his say. And it'll go something like this:
"Hey, Cole. What's goin' on?"
With all due respect to Hamels, his colleague Jimmy Rollins, Wright's teammate Carlos Beltran and all other in-uniform, trash-talking soothsayers, the Mets' most visible player declines to become the Mets' most audible player.
Wright made that clear Thursday afternoon after he had children smiling at the Schneider Children's Hospital. His words and his presence brought warmth to hospitalized children. They didn't add to the heat Hamels created during the Winter Meetings last month when the left-hander said -- and repeated -- during a talk-radio interview that the Mets "were chokers."
Wright all but ignored the topic.
"I don't want to get caught up in that," he said. "I don't want to get in a verbal war about who's the team to beat. We're going to play [the Phillies] 18 or 19 times. We'll settle it in the field."
He referred to the issue -- if it is an issue at all -- as nonsense and said, "Talk is cheap in January." And in December? "It's even worse," he said. "You can't talk what you're going to do."
Rather that make predictions, Wright will travel to Florida to watch the Super Bowl at the home of Mets coach Howard Johnson and then begin his own early training camp. He already appears to be in shape -- no surprise -- and actually looks thinner than he did a year ago. "Fightin' weight," he called it. But it has nothing to do with the Phillies.
Wright also spoke of Oliver Perez, the mixed-messages free agent the Mets still are pursuing to fill the void in their rotation, and Manny Ramirez, the risk-reward renegade who is not coming to the Mets.
While Wright was discussing the pros and cons of both, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon was at Citi Field on Thursday, all but certifying that Ramirez will not play for the home team.
"I know the perception out there again is that ownership said no," Wilpon said in an interview with Bloomberg. "I don't have the opportunity to say no because [general manager] Omar [Minaya] hasn't brought it to me as an option. Omar and the baseball staff aren't interested."
Minaya has repeatedly said the club wants to address its pitching almost to the exclusion of adding a position player. The Mets have followed that course to this point.
Unaware of Wilpon's comments, Wright said this of Ramirez: "Omar knows what he's doing," Wright said. "He knows what we need in the field and he knows what we need in the clubhouse. I do not know Manny very well. But I know what he's done on the field, and that's impressive. When you can single-handedly take a team and carry them into the postseason, and then, once you get to the postseason, the numbers speak for themselves, that's impressive."
"As a peer, I really respect that. I'd be on board with Manny 100 percent, assuming that he comes in and puts the team first and wants to be a part of this thing and wants to win."
"You know, I think that we have a good enough clubhouse ... I don't even know what [Ramiez] is like in the clubhouse. I've talked to him for a couple minutes here and there.
"But I would hope that we have a good enough clubhouse where no matter who you bring in, the clubhouse would be a positive influence ... and they will put winning, especially with the direction that Jerry [Manuel] has gone with the team, first. That's going to rub off on us, and hopefully rubs off on all the new additions."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.