David Wright on underdog tee-shirts: “We shouldn’t consider ourselves underdogs. The expectations in our clubhouse should be higher.”

February 29, 2012 – 9:00 am by Steven Cuce

David Wright was a homegrown talent of the New York Mets that came up during the 2004 season with a ton of promise along with Jose Reyes. Over the past few seasons Wright has seen this Mets team crumble around him with payroll going from around $150 million to $80-90 million at best right now. Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes have departed the team that was built to contend for a championship and now he is left with a core of unexperienced players to rebuild with.

Jeff Wilpon, COO of the New York Mets, had orange tee-shirts printed with the underdog logo on them for his team to wear during Spring Training. You want to talk about setting the bar low after a disappointing off-season for the Mets fan base? David Wright refuses to set low expectations in the Mets clubhouse, believing his comments were blown out of proportion now regarding being an underdog this season.

David Wright joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss his reaction to the Mets underdog tee-shirts, the New York Mets not being underdogs this season, his expectations for this season, playing a different role on this Mets team and his reaction to the payroll declining while seeing Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes depart the team.

Did you have a problem with these new underdog Mets tee-shirts?

“If you look at the headlines and then read the quotes they don’t match. It’s something that I’ve never played that underdog role. I’ve never been one to really go out there and say the prototypical you know us versus the world type of thing. I think that maybe from the outside the expectations are low, but my point was that what I want to get across to my teammates is that we shouldn’t go into the season with low expectations and looking to necessarily surprise people. We should just prepare in spring training like we normally do and go into the season and expect to win baseball games. I think that got blown up a little.”

I think your take is right. Just because people perceive you to not be good doesn’t mean you should think you are not good as a team:

“My point was different people get motivated in different ways. There’s no question. If that gets people motivated – the whole underdog mantra? If that gets people motivated? Good. The point I wanted to make was we shouldn’t consider ourselves underdogs per say. Other people might, but the expectations in our clubhouse should be higher then the expectations from the outside.”

What are your expectations for this season?

“I think we are going to go as far as the youthfulness and the energy of this team takes us. I think it’s no secret we are going to run a lot of young and inexperienced guys out there this year. I think that can go one of two ways. Either some of these guys can be a little overwhelmed and not perform up to their capabilities or you can really go out there jump up and bite on some people playing that style of baseball. I know that when I played on some veteran teams with Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Paul Lo Duca, the teams that gave us the most trouble and really made us nervous was the end of 2007 and the end of 2008. The Florida Marlins. They were young. They brought that energy. Those are the teams that gave us a problem when we were a veteran team, so hopefully we can be that kind of team that goes and brings that energy day in and day out. We have a lot of young guys that I really believe are going to be great players and they are going to have to learn on the job and they are going to have do that quickly, so I think we will go as far as these young guys take us, but I like that. I like having…I rather have a little less talent with this youthful energy we have then maybe some veterans that might be a little more talented, but don’t bring that energy that these young guys do.”

Do you have to have a different role on this team based on what’s expected of you and the talent around you?

“I mean a different mindset? Yes. I don’t think that I need to go out there and play any differently. I think that whether I was a rookie or now I try to go out there and lead by example. That’s playing the game hard and playing the game the right way. I think that’s the type of guy that I looked up to when I was younger, so that’s the kind of guy I want to be now.”

What goes through your head when you see Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes leave this team while the payroll continues to fall lower?

“There’s no question I am going to miss Jose. I think the organization is going to miss Jose. I’m sure the fans will miss Jose, but it makes no sense if we sit around and start feeling sorry for ourselves and worry about who’s not here. That’s when it becomes a long year and you become focused on the wrong things. If you ask anybody Jose is a great player. He is probably one of the best homegrown Mets position players that they’ve ever brought up in their system. Of course it’s tough to see him leave. Not only on a professional level, but we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve been very close. He’s like a baseball brother to me. It’s tough to see him go, but on the other hand that’s why the front office gets paid to make those tough decisions. You have to understand he was worth a lot of money and those are tough decisions that have to be made. They made their decision and now we have to go out there and pick up some of slack. Ruben Tejada is going to be just fine. Is he going to be Jose Reyes? I doubt it at least this year, but I think he will develop into a tremendous player and knowing Jose is not going to be here we each have to pick up the slack a little bit.”

Listen to David Wright on 660 WFAN in New York here

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