<
>

Mets will give Cox gift; rude sendoff too?

Retiring Bobby Cox manages for the final time in Flushing as the Atlanta Braves play the Mets in a three-game series at Citi Field this weekend.

And as Cox’s farewell tour nears its end, the Mets plan to present the 69-year-old skipper with wine from Tom Seaver’s Calistoga, Calif., vineyard.

Whether the Mets have the will to derail the Braves’ postseason aspirations and help end Cox’s tenure without a postseason bid remains to be seen.

Few current members of the Mets experienced the Braves’ run as division champs and perennial torture of the Amazins, which finally ended in 2006 with the Mets winning the division. Even David Wright, who caught the tail end of the Braves’ supremacy, suggested winning this weekend is more about getting the Mets on the right track than about a spoiler motivation.

Atlanta (83-64) trails Philadelphia (86-61) by three games in the division and leads San Diego (82-64) in the wild card by a half-game.

“No matter who we play, we’re going to try to go out there and win the game,” Wright said after the Mets beat Pittsburgh, 6-2, on Thursday and moved over .500 for the first time since Aug. 24. “It would be nice to try to finish as strongly as possible -- and if that means making it tougher for some teams to get into the playoffs then so be it. But I don’t think there’s any kind of real revenge factor. It’s more we need to finish strong for the good of the organization and to have some momentum moving forward.”

Wright added that he has an appreciation for Cox’s accomplishments, and how he protects his players.

“He’s always been one of my favorite managers to play against,” Wright said. “I love the intensity. I love the attitude that he brings to each and every game. He’s one of those guys you know is going to ‘bunker down’ for his guys, and it’s going to be a fight every single day. It’s fun to watch him from the opposing dugout, just the way he interacts with players and the fire that he brings to all the games.”