Mets’ Stars Born This Year With Wright And Reyes
By Joe McDonald
They have become more than important cogs in the lineup. They are developing into stars and are fast becoming the faces of the organization.
But both know they still have room to improve.
“I have a long way to go to become the player I want to be,” Wright said. “[In the past year], I experienced some success and I experienced some failure, so it’s teaching me to have an open mind and be prepared to come to the ballpark and learn.”
“The more I play, the more [fundamental sound] I will get playing this game,” the shortstop said. “Early in the season, I swung at bad pitches, but now I feel more comfortable at the plate.”
Both players have experienced success in their first full seasons in the big leagues. Wright was called up last July and has entrenched himself at third base. He is currently hitting .303 with 18 homers and 78 RBI. He has also shown tremendous patience at the plate and leads the team with a .384 on base average.
The 22 year-old has hit anywhere from third to eighth in the lineup, but was modest and credited his teammates for helping him with his pitch selection.
“With this lineup it doesn’t matter where you hit in the order, since you will have opportunities to drive in runs,” Wright said. “Especially hitting in front of Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd, those guys are All-Stars. Those guys make a pitcher a little nervous and hitting in front of them gives me better pitches to hit.”
Manager Willie Randolph also thought highly of the third baseman’s career.
“It’s nice to see what he is doing, but he will continue to grow and progress,” Randolph said. “I’m not ready to make him into Mike Schmidt yet, but it is great for the Met organization to have a young guy come in a do a nice job. And his future is pretty endless.”
This is also a season of firsts for Reyes. Even though he has been on the major league roster since 2003, this is the first healthy season for the shortstop. He has responded with a .274 average with 45 steals. His blazing speed gives the 22 year-old a chance to break Roger Cedeno’s record of 66 in 1999.
Reyes feels his base stealing ability was helped when the Mets signed one of their big off-season free agents.
“Carlos [Beltran] spoke to me a lot in Spring Training on how to steal bases,” Reyes said. “I am grateful to him for doing that.”
The shortstop has abandoned his method of running he took on last season after he came back from a pulled hamstring that kept him almost three months into the season. To prevent any re-occurrence, Reyes went into a training program this past winter.
“The last couple of years were tough years for me in terms of injuries,” he said. “But ever since I went to the Dominican Republic in the off-season, I am working hard and able to play a full season.”
And since those woes are behind him, he is working on improving his plate discipline and get on base as the Mets leadoff batter.
“I’m the leadoff man and I have to get on base no matter how,” Reyes said. “I just need to look for my pitches and try to hit the ball hard, because I know if I work at it, the stolen bases will be there at the end.”
So it has been a year of changes for the Mets two young players, besides working at their own games, Wright and Reyes also found life in the major leagues to be different.
“The thing is you have to make adjustments a whole lot quicker,” Wright said. “In the minor leagues you can get by on raw talent, but in the big leagues everything is magnified.”
Including the stars, the two players are shining.