Jerry Manuel Uses A Sick David Wright as a Pinch Hitter: What Was the Point?

Wendy AdairAnalyst IAugust 12, 2009

PHOENIX - AUGUST 10:  David Wright #5 of the New York Mets warms up on deck during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 10, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On Monday night, Jerry Manuel stated that he was giving David Wright a day off for Tuesday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Wright was kept out of the starting lineup, but was used in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter with the hopes of a win. The problem is, the New York Mets were down four runs and Wright would have not represented the winning or tying run.

There was no reason for him to hit, especially given the facts that the game would not have been won unless his getting on base would have loaded the bases for a grand slam.

The fact that Wright is feeling ill and in a very weakened condition made this decision even more questionable.

Below is an excerpt from a New York Daily News article; Wright's illness is also documented on the Mets' Web site:

Wright—who pinch-hit in the ninth and struck out—has appeared in 815 games since his major league debut on July 21, 2004, the most games played in the National League during that span.

Manuel said he wanted to go for the win in the ninth and that's why he used Wright as a pinch-hitter rather than give him a full day's rest. The manager's other option to pinch-hit, he noted, was Anderson Hernandez.

"I didn't think it would kill him," Manuel said about using Wright. "Did you?"

On July 1 in Milwaukee, Wright had talked his way into the Mets' lineup when Manuel planned to give the third baseman a game off. That day, Wright felt obligated to play, given the fact that Mets were on a five-game losing streak and in danger of being swept.

Last night, Wright wasn't pleading his case to remain in the starting lineup. Wright, who last got a day off against the Florida+Marlins" title="Florida Marlins">Florida Marlins on May 30, did not start for only the second time this season. He was worn down anyway, but the biggest reason for him sitting was an illness that left him nauseous and with throat issues.

"Just talking to him today, it didn't sound like him," Manuel said. "I didn't realize how bad he was."

Read more about this story here.

There was absolutely no point in putting Wright in the game as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth inning down four runs when he was obviously sick, and the illness started last weekend in San Diego, so he was already in a weakened condition. 

I admire Wright for even being available for pinch hit duty even while sick for several days, most players with this kind of illness would have stayed at the hotel and rested.

Manuel used Wright's nausea and throat irritation as the major reason for resting him, which would be fine if he had not been saying late last weekend that Wright was tired and needed a break. 

Jerry Manuel has for two months had his sole focus on who is on the DL and answering about their potential return dates. 

Admittedly Manuel did not notice that Wright was sick until he asked him yesterday how he was feeling, but he meant it more from a needing a mental break standpoint. 

He said yesterday's decision about resting Wright was a combination of physical limitations and mental fatigue.

The Mets have been without their core players, with the exception of Wright, since the middle of June when Carlos Beltran went down, but Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes have been out of action since May.

With 50 games remaining and the Mets out of playoff contention at this point, David Wright should be rested more, whether he is banged up, sick, exhausted or otherwise.

Jerry Manuel needs to be honest about his reasons for playing or resting players, his lineups and player use have not made sense, and instances like this does make you wonder if he does want to win any further games this season.

It would be too easy for Mets management to pin the disappointing season solely on injuries, but Manuel has to be wise with his players and who he uses for the given situation.