MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Mets captain Wright showing he's back

With pain gone, veteran third baseman steals two bases in win in KC

Mets captain Wright showing he's back

KANSAS CITY -- The Mets managed to split a season-opening two-game series in a matchup of last year's World Series participants by pulling out a 2-0 victory against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

That's good news. With two days off before their home opener Friday afternoon, it wouldn't have been much fun going home 0-2.

Noah Syndergaard, who notched the only Fall Classic victory last year for the Mets, again provided the strong-armed tactics with six shutout innings.

That's good news. Scouts said Syndergaard hit 100 mph with his fastball and mixed in an effective 92-mph slider.

Syndergaard pitches Mets past Royals

The best news, though? David Wright stole two bases.

Big deal? Really big.

The face of the franchise, who is 33, has, in recent years, battled back problems so severe that he underwent a special stretching program this offseason. Wright had to make up for lost time in getting baseball-ready during Spring Training. Tuesday, though, he felt good enough to take off running and steal multiple bases in a game for only the 13th time in his career, the first time since 2013. Wright stole four bases once in '09. He stole three once in '07. And now Wright has stolen two in a game 11 times.

Wright didn't score after either steal Tuesday, but he did strike a note of optimism for the Mets. Their guy is feeling good.

"If he was hurting, he wouldn't have even tried," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It would have killed him to slide."

Wright tried. And he enjoyed it, although his focus remains on winning games, not a stolen-base title.

"We just got back [from exhibition games] in Vegas," Wright said. "I don't think the odds are in my favor."

No, but the Mets feel a lot better about their odds of repeating as National League East champions with a David Wright who can take an aggressive approach to the game. And Wright feels great knowing he can be a factor for a franchise that is the only one he has ever played for and the only one he ever wants to play for.

Since he made his debut with the Mets on July 21, 2004, Wright has appeared in 1,548 games. None of his 308 teammates over that span has even played 1,000 games with the franchise. Since his debut, Wright leads the franchise with 1,747 hits, 447 more than Jose Reyes. He also leads in doubles (382), RBIs (956) and batting average (.298), and he's even second on the Mets' all-time list in home runs, 17 back of Darryl Strawberry.

The Mets were in the postseason only once in Wright's first 11 seasons, but now they're taking aim at a second consecutive division title. They made it all the way to the World Series last year, although they lost to the Royals in five games.

Wright sees that as a step.

"Everything I have been through in this organization, that definitely means a lot to me," he said. "There was never a question for me. This is where I always want to be. I had no desire to test [the free-agent market]. The Mets are all I have known since I was 18. They have been loyal to me."

And Wright has been good to them. He has provided a professional presence in the clubhouse, helping shape the attitude of younger players who get called up and look to the veteran for cues of what to do.

The biggest thing Wright shows them is how to play the game properly, and that's why having been able to get his back problems under control are so critical for this season.

"The biggest thing for me is I want to play the game instinctively," Wright said. "I don't want to think about [the back]. It helps to know I can get up and go hard. I can't tell you how much fun this is."

Collins is convinced it will be even more enjoyable as the season goes on.

"He only had half a Spring Training," Collins said, referring to the fact Wright spent the first few weeks getting himself in baseball shape because of his focus on strengthening the back over the offseason. "He is still getting a feel for his swing and the game."

And the basestealing?

"He pays attention," said Collins. "He realized the time to the play was in his favor, and he took advantage of it. He likes to play the game."

And the Mets like the way Wright plays the game.

Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.