NEW YORK -- Before being honored Tuesday night at the 17th annual Lou Gehrig Sports Awards Benefit for ALS research at the Marriott Marquis, Mets third baseman David Wright said the optimist in him still hopes Jose Reyes will be to his left again on the infield at Spring Training.The realist in him said, "If Jose goes, anybody can go." While Reyes is one of the top available players in this free-agent market, Wright, 29 next month, is experiencing the novelty of hearing his name bandied around the trade rumor mill. Wright is signed through 2012, with a team option for '13, and he is coming off an injury-marred season in which his five-year run of All-Star appearances ended as he hit 14 homers with a .254 average in 102 games. "I don't think it surprised me," Wright said of recent rumors. "From very early on, playing in New York, you realize you try to control the things you can try to control. I have no control over that. As much as I enjoy playing here, as much as I've like to be here from beginning to end, you know that's not always the case. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way you plan for it to work out. "But I've been in Virginia for most of the [offseason], so I guess it kind of shelters me from a lot of the rumors and just the whirlwind, day in, day out. You kind of hear about it. You get some text messages from buddies about different things. But for the most part, I'm not into it on a daily basis saying, 'I'm going here. I'm going there. I'm going to be traded. I'm not going to be traded.' Because you'll drive yourself crazy if you sit there and you try to figure out everything that's reported or everything that's rumored to be. ... My gut feeling, I'm planning on being the third baseman for the New York Mets next year."
Wright came up the coast from his offseason home to accept this award, along with fellow honorees Joe Torre, executive vice president of Major League Baseball operations; former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg; Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Hurley Sr.; and New York Rangers NHL legend Mike Richter. Christopher Pendergast, an ALS patient who founded Ride for Life and has raised millions of dollars for ALS research, was presented by former All-Star pitcher David Cone with the Jacob K. Javits Lifetime Achievement Award.The event held by the ALS Association's Greater New York Chapter drew nearly 500 attendees and raised $755,000 in the ongoing effort to end a disease that took the life of Yankees legend Gehrig 70 years ago. "Anytime you're asked to come to an event of this magnitude, sit next to Joe Torre, be recognized with a man like Mr. Torre, it's something special," Wright said. "Obviously everybody knows a lot about Lou Gehrig, but a lot of people don't know the background and specifics of ALS, so I'm glad I could come here and do my small part to spread the word and raise awareness." It did not take Wright long to be asked in the cocktail reception what he thinks Reyes will do. "I know what I hope he's going to do," Wright replied. "I don't know what he's going to do, but I know what I want him to do, and that's to be to my left next year. I've shot him a couple of texts here and there. We've kind of exchanged some messages, not really anything about baseball. I guess that's the eternal optimist side of me -- that he'll be to my left at Spring Training. You never really know. Hopefully the organization values Jose the way that maybe I do, and hopefully Jose can kind of reciprocate that, and hopefully they can work something out. "Every day it's kind of something new, so you never know what is real and what is not. It's probably too early to start judging which way we're going to go, which way Jose is going to go. I try not to pay too much attention to it at this moment. But with that being said, you see the kind of interest Jose is getting. You knew he was going to get it, but it finally kind of hits home. When you hear the reports of him speaking to different teams, you know that it's a possibility, that it could be real that he's not here." Wright wonders himself what Reyes' widely expected departure could mean to the Mets' future. When asked if Reyes' decision affects him, he said, "I guess so." "I guess this could affect things moving forward," Wright said. "I don't know for a fact -- I haven't spoken to the front office, I haven't spoken to anybody about specifically my future -- but you realize that it's a real thing. I guess if Jose goes, anybody can go. I understand the situation that both sides are in. I understand the Mets' position. I understand Jose's position -- he's done a lot to work toward free agency, he's there now, and he should enjoy it and do what he wants to do, because he's really earned it." The Mets have finished fourth in the National League East three years in a row, and they backslid further last season by two games in the win column. If Reyes signs elsewhere, does Wright want to be part of a rebuilding operation? He nodded. "For me, it's just the optimistic side of me," Wright said. "I always go in believing we can win. It wouldn't matter what team I was playing on, who we had taking the field. Maybe sometimes it's maybe a little bit being naive, but I truly believe that every time I take the field, I expect to win. No matter who's to my left, who's to my right, who's pitching. "I'm being truthful -- I've never really thought about the future too much. I don't do that away from baseball, which sometimes obviously is not a good thing. In baseball, I really try to take it day to day and see what happens. I haven't thought too much about my future. I try to live in the moment, I guess." Wright said he is "thrilled" by how little his back has affected him since season's end, but said it still remains his "No. 1 priority" this offseason. "I have to do a series of different things to strengthen the place where I got injured," he said. "Then after that, do what I always try to do -- get a little bigger, a little faster, a little stronger. I think agility, work on some footwork-type stuff, that will be an important part of my offseason this year. "The biggest thing for me, I used to be able to just hop out of bed and do whatever; now it takes a little while to get going. I think that's just normal. But once I get my back loosened up and do the exercises I'm supposed to do, and do the strengthening things I'm supposed to do, I feel 100 percent." While the status of the left side of the Mets' infield is first among the offseason inquiries, another question everyone asks is what Wright thinks of the Mets' decision to reconfigure dimensions in an effort to make Citi Field friendlier to hitters. "Obviously when you play in a ballpark, you want to be fair to the pitchers, you want to be fair to the hitters, and I think Sandy [Alderson, GM] and the front office has really done everything they can to really do that," Wright said. "If you ask a hitter whether they want to make a park more hitter-friendly, of course they're going to say yes, and I'm really no different than that. Hopefully it not only helps us hitters out, but it helps us out in the style of baseball that we're trying to play." Was it fair to him these last three seasons? "'Unfair' is not the right word to use. I think 'frustrating' at times is a good word," Wright said. "You want to be rewarded for having a good at-bat, for hitting the ball hard. I know that's not always going to work out in baseball, but it's nice to see the results when you go up there and you do what you're supposed to do. "You read the different things -- you would have had this many more home runs, you would have done this, you would have done that -- you never know until you really play there. I think that you go out there and you continue to go up as a hitter and good things will happen. I know that numbers-wise, I haven't put up the type of numbers that I might have put up at Shea Stadium, but I don't know if all fingers point toward the stadium. You never know. You never know how the park's going to play until you hit there, so I'll have a chance to sort of see that firsthand." Wright also said notions that he would have meaningful input on player-personnel decisions is "overblown," saying the 2009 trade for Jeff Francoeur was the only example where he gave input and a move happened.
"I haven't talked to the front office since the season ended. I've exchanged some text messages with Jeff [Wilpon, COO], nothing baseball-related," Wright said. "I've talked to [manager] Terry Collins a few times, but that's probably the extent of it."