With All-Star third baseman David Wright on the 15-day DL with a back injury that could linger for much longer than the two-week prognosis, one of the biggest questions facing the club is who will step up and lead this team both on and off the field.
The Mets have been criticized for a lack of leadership in the past and with their de facto spokesman and star on the shelf for the immediate future, people are asking who is going to step up and take on that role.
The funny thing is, the answer—from the players in the locker room, at least—is nobody.
Nobody is going to replace what Wright brings to the club. Nobody can do what he does on the field. No one individual has to take this team on their shoulders.
Therein lies the beauty of the Mets.
See, it's not one person's responsibility. Every single person on that 25-man roster knows the club can not be successful unless everybody pulls together. Each individual needs to pull their own weight to achieve a collective goal.
“Right now I think in order for us to be successful, everyone needs to be accountable,” right fielder Carlos Beltran told me.
“We can't depend on only one or two guys. In order for us to be successful, everyone needs to do everything.
“It's going to be a little bit difficult having David out and Ike Davis out, but we just have to hope for those guys to get back as soon as they can and get better.”
But it's not just the veterans who realize it's a joint effort.
“That's what's been so great about this team,” Dillon Gee said, highlighting the fact that performance is often as important as simply being vocal.
“Everyone has stepped up and filled the role pretty well. It's a long season and guys like David or guys you rely on heavily go down sometimes.
“There are a lot of injuries in this game, but the guys that we have brought up have all stepped in in their own way and played well. We all look forward to David coming back, but in the meantime we have the talent to fill those holes as we need them.”
Catcher Josh Thole added: “I feel like anybody can step up. Everyone is capable, and we know that with David not in the lineup or at third base, we have guys that can fill in. We have the right guys to do it.”
Similarly, Justin Turner, recently called up from Triple-A Buffalo, recognizes that the team still has a lot of elite players who he looks up to.
As a newcomer surrounded by almost as many prospects as long time big leaguers, Turner isn't afraid to say he finds natural leaders everywhere on the field.
“It could be anyone,” he said.
“We have a lot of great players here and we have a lot of camaraderie between us.
“We still have Jason Bay out there, Ronny [Paulino] is in the lineup and we have Jose [Reyes]. We still have a lot of pretty good, experienced players out there on the field right now, so you can't count them out.”
Maybe more importantly, players know what exactly Wright means to the club. With this is mind, it doesn't come as any surprise that it's two of the more-traveled members of the team who recognize that Wright can not, maybe even should not, be replaced.
In some ways, it's just not baseball clubhouse etiquette.
Willie Harris, sat in front of his locker wearing his batting gloves and swinging a black bat from side to side, said: “We know who the face of this team is. No one's gonna try and take that role; that's his role, that's his thing. This is David Wright's team. We just have to go out and try to win games until he gets back.”
In the opposite corner of the clubhouse is RA Dickey, one of the more cerebral members of the team. He's a journeyman who's found his home with the Mets, but he said the locker room isn't the place for someone to stand up and say they're taking the team on their shoulders.
“It's not real common place for someone to make a declaration like that,” Dickey said.
“I think what's more appropriate is for guys to go out there and do it and let that speak.
“As a professional, injuries are inevitable. There's not been one team to be without one injury in a season, so you know you;re going to get them. It's just a matter of guys who aren't used to stepping up stepping up and having guys that get called up having good seasons.
“Replacing David is a tall order, but hopefully he'll be back in 15 days. If we can keep the momentum that we presently have for when he comes off the DL, we should be in good shape.”
Ash Marshall is a New York Mets Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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