Wright claws his way back to Mets

Veteran third baseman ends two-month absence with pair of doubles in victory

Updated: July 23, 2011, 2:48 AM ET
By Adam Rubin |

MIAMI -- David Wright's lower back felt fine. The uneasy feeling was trying to fit in with his teammates by doing some variation of the hand gesture known as "the claw," which the New York Mets adopted after Wright landed on the disabled list following the discovery of a stress fracture more than two months ago.

"I tried to not do it, and I got peer pressured," said Wright, who drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as the Mets beat the Florida Marlins 7-6 on Friday. "These guys are doing that goofy hand thing to the dugout. I'm a little in between on that. I don't want to do that, but they're kind of making me. I just feel a little awkward doing it."

Wright finished 2-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs, two strikeouts and a late throwing error in his first major league game since May 15. He drove in the opening run in a three-run first inning, left a runner at third base in each of his next three at-bats, then broke a 5-all tie in the eighth with a run-scoring double against Edward Mujica.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wright
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyA simple high-five with Ronny Paulino? David Wright can get behind that kind of celebration.

"There were some ups and downs, obviously," Wright said. "I felt like I had some good at-bats, a couple of bad ones. Obviously the errant throw, you don't want to do that, especially after you get a big hit to put the team up."

Wright had batted .476 in six rehab games with Class A St. Lucie. As a sendoff, the staff at the Mets' Florida facility repaid that contribution with a prank.

Paul Taglieri, the head of the Mets' Florida operations, and St. Lucie manager Pedro Lopez asked Wright if he would participate in a check-presentation ceremony for charity before a Class A game. But they fooled Wright. Once the third baseman got to the field, the duo jokingly presented Wright with a fake Florida State League Player of the Week certificate, which even was framed.

"There were 1,000 people because it was dollar beer night," Wright said about the number of witnesses to the stunt.

The framed certificate was hanging Friday in the visitors' clubhouse in Miami.

Both of Wright's doubles against the Marlins went to right field, which often is an indication things are going well for him. The last time Wright had two opposite-field hits in a game came on June 29, 2010, also at Florida, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"Probably a combination of being a little late because guys are throwing a little harder and feeling OK up there," Wright reasoned about the location of his hits.

"It's going to be a little bit of a process. I definitely wouldn't say I'm in midseason form or anything."

Wright fit seamlessly into the clubhouse after the prolonged absence, which he knew would be the case. "I talked to these guys pretty much on a regular basis -- the majority of guys in here," Wright said, referring to conversations during his absence.

"I'll get a text message of them joking on me or something. But I do talk to these guys pretty regularly, so I do feel like the clubhouse aspect of it, it's right where I left off. I don't think there was any big adjustment there.

"The biggest thing was I didn't want to slow these guys down. They've been doing a pretty good job offensively."

Wright then noted Jose Reyes bombarded him with BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry direct messages during their separation.

Wright did not tell Reyes he switched to an iPhone during the time away. Reyes had no clue -- at least for a while -- his messages were not going through.

"He figured it out pretty quickly, unfortunately," Wright joked.

Of course, Reyes was the driving force behind the Mets adopting "the claw" mandate, which Wright half-heartedly complied with in his return following the doubles.

"That's not really for me," Wright said. "They've given me a couple of different options. I don't have to do the real crazy one. I can do more of a subtle one. I'll take that one -- Jason Bay, the more low-key guys' (gesture). I don't think the Jose Reyes, over-the-head, behind-the-back stuff really is me."

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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