Wright shows fire Mets require

NEW YORK -- Who knew two of Terry Collins' most lightning-rod moves as New York Mets manager would be pulling stars from games ... and involve Ryan Braun as part of the plot?

Of course, in Game No. 162 last season, Jose Reyes opted out after a bunt single in the first inning that gave him an insurmountable lead over Braun for the NL batting title. And Collins was complicit because he wanted to protect his relationship with Reyes in case the shortstop re-signed in Queens.

On Tuesday night, Collins merely wanted to protect David Wright from getting drilled and potentially injured. (Daniel Murphy, too, for the record.)

So, a half-inning after D.J. Carrasco intentionally or unintentionally plunked the reigning NL MVP Braun, and with Wright due to lead off the following half-inning, Collins pulled Wright. And that led Wright to get into a verbal spat with his manager in the dugout, which was carried on television.

Face it: Neither of Collins' decisions to pull a player was old school, which is Collins' reputation.

But realize this, too: Collins is pragmatic. The Mets are having an unpredictably positive season, and an extremely fragile one too. And there was zero chance Collins was leaving in his marquee player -- who happens to be hitting .408 and playing with a broken pinkie -- and expose him to injury risk. He knew Milwaukee might choose to retaliate.

Heck, Collins believed Milwaukee had every right to retaliate.

"I've got news for you: In this game, there are unwritten rules," Collins said. "And one of the unwritten rules is you hit my guy, I'm hitting your guy. They're not hitting my guy tonight. I'm not exposing him to being hit. He said, 'If anybody gets hit, I want it to be me.' I said, 'I'm sorry, it isn't going to be you.'"

Said Wright about expressing his displeasure in public view: "I was up first and was ready to get my stuff on and Terry kind of got me at a moment where I was upset with the situation and got me at a moment that I was pretty hot. It wasn't directed at Terry at all. I talked to him a handful of times after it happened and we made it very clear -- or I made it very clear to him -- that was not directed at him or the coaching staff whatsoever."

Reyes was skewered for choosing to leave Game No. 162, and rightfully so.

Even if Wright ought to have checked his emotions and expressed his displeasure to Collins in private, the dugout confrontation told you everything you need to know about him. And he ought to be praised for that competitive trait.

Wright is a gamer. So is Murphy. They are the types of players the Mets need. They are the types of players the Mets need to lock up long term -- and, in Wright's case, they likely will by next offseason.

Wright is the face of the franchise. And that's what you want to see from your captain, whether or not he officially has a "C" on his uniform.

"Terry's the manager, and I've got all the respect in the world for Terry," Wright said. "I try to go to battle for Terry every day. He's got to make the move that he thinks is best for the team, and he obviously did that. Whether I agree with it or disagree with it, I respect him. I've loved playing for him the short amount of time that we've had together. And I've got all the respect in the world for Terry specifically.

"You get caught up in the moment. Things probably looked a lot worse than they really were, and we go on from here.
Terry and I have no issue. It's one of those things, like I said, in the heat of the moment it probably looked worse than it really was."