NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A year ago, the perception of the Mets was vastly different than what it is today.
They were coming off their sixth consecutive losing season, and the Washington Nationals were the overwhelming favorite to win the NL East in the eyes of baseball pundits.
But the Mets embarked on a magical season, winning the division and National League pennant before falling to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.
Now, a week before spring training opens, team captain David Wright says he knows this season will present different challenges.
“We’re going to have a bull’s-eye on our back. We are not going to sneak up on anybody this year,” the veteran third baseman told the New York Post at the Mets’ training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “When you are the National League champions, you get everybody’s ‘A’ game, not just the players, but the fans. The fans come out to root against you on the road, so it’s going to be hostile environments on the road; it’s going to be teams wanting to knock off the National League champs.
“Instead of the hunter, we are now the hunted. We’ll see how we respond to that.’’
Wright said the Mets cannot afford to get too confident.
“We can’t rest on what we accomplished last year, we have to worry about coming together as a team this spring and getting the job done,’’ he said. “I want this team to play for one another like last year.”
Wright played in just 52 games (regular season and playoffs) in 2015 after battling back from spinal stenosis. The 33-year-old said he will limit his workload in the spring to ensure he’s healthy for opening day.
“I now understand what I am up against,’’ said Wright, who batted .289 with five home runs in the regular season. “I understand the condition and what the good days feel like and the bad days feel like. I have a better understanding than when I came back last year. I didn’t know what to expect.
“When I came back last year, there were some highs and there were some lows. Now, there is no question in my mind that I can still go out there and play.’’
The Mets’ pitchers and catcher report to Port St. Lucie on Thursday. Position players arrive a week later.