‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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You kind of had an inkling that things were going to go wrong on Memorial Day when Terry Collins had to play David Wright at shortstop.
No offense to Mssrs. Wright and Collins, but the Mets’ All-Star third baseman is no Derek Jeter. We learned that in the six innings Wright had to serve there after Justin Turner, the team’s only other healthy shortstop, had to leave the game after wrenching his ankle in the third inning.
Not that the 8-4 loss to the Phillies was any of Wright’s fault. He made a basically harmless throwing error in the fourth, and he probably could have had a better feel around second base on a play that put Jimmy Rollins in position for the go-ahead run in the seventh.
But give Wright a break. It was only the second time in his major league career that he took as much as an inning at short. And he probably won’t have to do it again, considering Ronny Cedeno is just about ready to return from a two-game sit-down caused by an injured calf. And if Cedeno isn’t ready, the Mets will have a Triple-A shortstop in Omar Quintanilla coming up from Buffalo today.
He actually could add some temporary pop to the lineup, as Quintanilla has hit six homers and knocked in 27 runs while compiling a .282 BA.
And regular starter Ruben Tejada and his strained quads, DL-ed since May 6, could re-join the club over the weekend after a few minor league rehab starts.
So all is not bleak up the Mets’ middle. More important is that, the way Wright has been hitting lately, it’s best to get him back to his defensive comfort zone at third base as quickly as possible. Wright, you see, is in a bit of a slump, which should not alarm anybody. After all, did anybody really think he was going to hit .400 for the season?
But he could not have grown cold at a worse time for this point in the season. With the Mets now into a 25-game string against eight teams above .500, an 0-for-14 slide is not what the Mets really need right now.
They didn’t need him against the Padres. But they sure could use him against the Phillies, possibly poised to make a surge out of last place following Cole Hamels’ win that put him at 8-1. Wright was 0-for-4 as his average fell to .373.
He’s still the Mets’ only regular hitting over .300, of course, though Daniel Murphy and rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis are close. As Ike Davis is still trying to figure things out from a .167 start, it’s essential that Wright contribute to an offense that is currently ranked 11th in overall offense but 28th in homers.
The Mets don’t hit home runs, despite what Vinny Rottino and Scott Hairston might have shown with their two-run blasts against Hamels yesterday. They manufacture runs. That’s how they’ll continue to win games this year.
To do that, they need a productive Wright.
It says here that he’ll produce.
Just keep him planted at third.
He’s no Jeter, you know.
Your thoughts? Sound off on Wright’s mini-slump, the shortstop situation and all things Mets in the comments below…