Wigginton moving to first base, for now

Updated: July 22, 2004, 12:19 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Third baseman David Wright arrived at Shea Stadium six hours before the New York Mets were to play Montreal on Wednesday night, about as excited as a 21-year-old ought to be after being called up to the major leagues.

"I didn't get much sleep," said Wright, who was recalled after Mike Piazza sprained his wrist Tuesday night. An MRI exam showed no structural damage in Piazza's wrist and the Mets chose not to put him on the disabled list. Instead, they made roster room for Wright by optioning relief pitcher Dan Wheeler to Triple-A Norfolk.

Piazza, who has struggled with his transition to from catcher to first base this season, said there had been some overnight improvement in his wrist. "The swelling has gone down a little bit," he said. "There's a little fluid, a little stiffness, but structurally, it's fine. I'm just going to shut it down for as few days."

The injury gave the Mets a chance to look at Wright, who was excited about the opportunity.

"It's an incredible feeling," the top prospect in the Mets organization said. "This has been my dream. I'm a little antsy right now, a little jittery. After batting practice, I'll be OK. The emotions started running wild early. It's a great situation to be in."

Wright was batting .298 with eight home runs in 31 games at Norfolk after being promoted from Double-A Binghamton where he hit .363 with 10 home runs.

He said last night's call caught him off guard.

"It's a big surprise, a shock you don't expect," he said. "I expect to do my part to help the team win if I can play up to expectations. My expectations are higher on myself."

Wright's recall pushed Ty Wigginton, the Mets hottest hitter lately, from third base to first.

Wright, who batted seventh, went 0-for-4 in his major league debut but made a couple of nice plays at third base in a 5-4 victory over the Expos.

At first, Wigginton was not happy with the move when he learned about it after Tuesday night's game.

"I was a little upset," he said. "I showered and then went back in. They told me I'd be in the lineup every day. I think I've performed well."

Wigginton, the team's regular third baseman, has also played second this season and had some work at first base in the minors. He started working out at first base this month when it became apparent that Wright would be called up.

"You have to remember to run to the bag when they hit a ground ball," he said. "That's probably the toughest part. It helps me that I'm an infielder. I'll be fine down there."

Wigginton remains the subject of trade talk as GM Jim Duquette shops for pitching help.

Duquette said Wright was not considered a big-league option even after he batted .353 in spring training with the Mets.

"We were not thinking of him at the start of the season," the GM said. "It's a feel thing. When he played the way he did this year, he came on the radar screen. From a baseball standpoint, he's ready for the jump. From a maturity level for a kid his age, it's been impressive."

Wheeler, who gave up the game-winning hit in relief against Florida on Tuesday night, was disappointed with his demotion, squeezed out in a roster numbers game because he had minor league options remaining.

"I know I can pitch up here," he said. "But I totally understand."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press