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Wilpon: Wright 'playing like a superstar now'

Wilpon: Wright 'playing like a superstar now'

Wilpon: Wright 'playing like a superstar now'
NEW YORK -- Mets owner Fred Wilpon rarely speaks publicly, which is one of the reasons his criticism of third baseman David Wright last year seemed so jarring. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine last May, Wilpon called Wright a "good kid," but "not a superstar."

He partially amended that statement Wednesday.

"I think he's playing like a superstar right now," Wilpon said as he exited City Hall, where the Mets and Major League Baseball announced plans for the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Wilpon reiterated that he would love to keep Wright in New York throughout his career. But as he did in Spring Training, the owner deferred the responsibility of those matters to general manager Sandy Alderson.

"I think, really, you've got to talk to Sandy about that," Wilpon said. "He's responsible for that. He has set the tone. He's set the plan, and we're just following Sandy's plan. So far, so good."

Outside of guaranteeing that Wright will not be bait at this summer's Trade Deadline, Alderson has remained mostly mum on the subject of his third baseman. The Mets hold a $16 million option on Wright's contract for next season, after which he can become a free agent. Logic dictates that the six-year, $100 million extension Ryan Zimmerman signed with the Nationals this spring will be New York's benchmark for any upcoming negotiations with Wright.

The Mets never made an offer to their other franchise cornerstone, shortstop Jose Reyes, when he became a free agent last winter. But there is a sense within the organization that Wright, a lifelong Mets fan, will harbor more sentimentality toward the franchise that drafted him 38th overall in 2001. Three months after Reyes left, the Mets settled their lawsuit with the trustee seeking to recover funds from Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, purportedly putting the franchise in better financial standing.

Wilpon is at least on board with the notion of keeping Wright in Flushing for as long as possible, especially considering his recent contributions. After struggling through injury for most of 2011, the third baseman is batting .408 with four home runs in 33 games this season, playing most of them with a fractured right pinkie finger. He has made just one error on defense.

"Do you want David Wright? Well, do you want motherhood?" Wilpon quipped. "I mean, of course. I love David Wright. He's one of the great people, not only in baseball. He's just a great young man, and proving himself to be a great baseball player. Not just a good baseball player, but a great baseball player. So, of course we want him."

Wilpon has been unable to attend many games this year after undergoing left hip replacement surgery approximately two weeks ago. But the owner was in good health and spirits Wednesday, walking with a cane and joking with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, his own front-office lieutenants and members of the media.

Wilpon spoke warmly about the Mets, who are off to a 20-16 start after finishing 77-85 a year ago, 25 games out of first place.

"I'm very pleased," Wilpon said. "I love watching them. ... I think we are headed in the right direction. I think Sandy has a plan ... and we're trying to implement that plan."

Whether that plan involves his current third baseman remains to be seen. Though Wilpon would not delve too deeply into the baseball aspects of the decision, he referenced Wright multiple times as an upstanding citizen away from the ballpark.

"My perception of David Wright was always one of the nicest, finest young men I've ever met," Wilpon said. "This is a great young man. If I had another daughter, I'd love it if she married a David Wright."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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