MLB.com Columnist

Marty Noble

Years later, David still gets it Wright

Years later, David still gets it Wright

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Since the first time Tom Glavine nodded in the direction of David Wright in the summer of 2004 and said, "He gets it," compliments have come to Wright as good roles have come to De Niro and great songs came to Sinatra. The face of the Mets is most flattered when a compliment involving his baseball demeanor also involves Derek Jeter.

Whether implied or said directly, comparison to the Yankees captain delights the Mets' de facto captain and reinforces the way he lives his baseball life. His admiration for Jeter is clear and abundant, so much so that hanging from a wall in his former Manhattan apartment was a framed lineup card from the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The names Jeter and Wright appear on the card, though the frame and prominent placement in the apartment were not based solely on Jeter's name.

Wright explains: "We were playing exhibition games to get ready for the WBC. We were on the same team. Davey Johnson was the manager. I must have been used as the DH in one game, and halfway through, I think Davey asked Derek if he wanted a few ABs. He did, so Davey yanked me and put him in my spot in the lineup. No problem.

"After the game, I asked Davey if I could have the card, and he let me. I wanted it because there was my name, crossed out, and 'Jeter' was printed in under it. It was the day Derek Jeter was my caddy. I took the card and asked him to sign it. He did. He understood. ... It's very cool to have."

He does get it. He does. He does.

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Hope for the newspaper business lives after all. Newspapers have reappeared in the Mets' clubhouse. Beginning with the opening of Citi Field in 2009, the New York dailies and USA Today had been absent from their clubhouses here and in Queens. Some were smuggled in from time to time, but the Mets' library was sadly thin and woefully outdated.

But now Kevin Kierst, the second-year clubhouse/equipment manager, has resumed the practice of providing reading material for the players. The sports sections usually are removed quickly and the sections or pages that include the crossword puzzles disappear almost instantly.

It remains to be determined whether any of the current Mets can handle the New York Times weekend puzzles as quickly and effortlessly as Scott Schoeneweis, John Maine and Aaron Heilman, experts of the recent past in the down-and-across activity. Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were past experts.

The USA Today crossword puzzle and sports section once were staples for players on trips. Most hotels provided complementary copies of the paper, dropped at the doors of players' room. Players would wake, retrieve their papers, retreat to their beds, do the puzzle and meet for lunch. It was SOP until one morning in 1996, in the downtown Los Angeles Marriott.

Pete Harnisch, the pitcher/prankster, arose early, removed the sports sections from every player's paper and left the other sections at the doorway. His colleagues were frustrated and miffed until they arrived at Dodger Stadium and found a USA Today sports section on the stool at every locker.

Harnisch eventually announced the reason for the delayed delivery to his mates. "The writers missed their deadlines," he said.

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Johan Santana insists he will allow nature to take its course and not attempt to stop the advancement of age as players sometimes do. Weeks short of his 33rd birthday, Santana said he will not "paint" his hair -- a players' term -- and he will not try to conceal the gray that has begun to show in his otherwise black hair.

"I guess it's about time," he said Thursday morning as he rubbed his scalp. "I must be old now."

Santana outed fellow Venezuelan Omar Vizquel. "I know he dyes his," he said. And a guest at his locker noted that Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Dave Winfield are among the more prominent former players who "paint."

The color of Winfield's hair began to change in 1990, when he still played for the Yankees, though not too many folks could detect the gray because he was 6-foot-6 and they weren't. But when he let his guard down and sat, the grays became conspicuous.

Then came the May 11 trade to the Angels, and four months later a return to the Bronx. The grays were gone when Winfield sat at his locker in the visiting clubhouse. He said: "Once you get away from here and the man who caused them, they go away."

* * * * *

An observation: If the image of Mike Cameron were transferred to Silly Putty and then stretched to make it longer, LaTroy Hawkins would appear.

A memory lapse: The brain fails us all at some point. The face of Mike Baxter was familiar enough Thursday morning, but no name quickly came to mind. I referred to him, speaking with another reporter, as "WhatsHisCatch."

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.