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Wright's early numbers impressive, even for May

TORONTO -- There are the big power numbers of Josh Hamilton and the near-Triple Crown start of Matt Kemp, now on the Dodgers' disabled list. But there is no one hotter in baseball right now than David Wright. The folks at Citi Field even broke into an "M-V-P, M-V-P" chant after Wright's go-ahead double in the eighth inning Thursday against Cincinnati put the Mets ahead in an eventual 9-4 victory.

"My reaction to that? It's May. There you go," a smiling Wright told this corner over the weekend in Rogers Centre. "I appreciate the support but it's May. It's humbling but, again, May."

That said, Wright has piled up some pretty incredible numbers a week before Memorial Day:

*After not playing here Saturday due to a nagging head cold, Wright leads the majors with a .409 batting average and .510 on-base percentage. He has 52 hits in 36 games, fourth in the National League, and entered Saturday tied for second in the NL in doubles (13) and third in runs (28).

*Wright has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, going 20 for 42 in that stretch.

*The last player with an average as high as Wright this late in May was Chipper Jones (.414 on June 12, 2008). Since 1962, Wright is one of just eight NL players to be at .411 or better on May 17.

*Wright started Friday at .411, making him the first right-hander batter to have a batting average over .410 and on-base over .510 this late in the season since Rico Carty of the Braves -- all the way back in 1970.

Speaking Wednesday at City Hall in New York following the announcement that Citi Field will host the 2013 All-Star Game, Mets owner Fred Wilpon told reporters that Wright "is playing like a superstar right now."

That, of course, raised quite a ruckus in the Big Apple because of Wilpon's infamous "really good kid, very good player, not a superstar" comment about Wright in a New Yorker magazine article last year. Wright is a free agent after next season and the Mets are going to have to pony up sooner rather than later. And after not keeping Jose Reyes, they basically have no choice but to give Wright the keys to the castle.

"That third baseman has just been absolutely amazing," marveled Mets manager Terry Collins. "He's been carrying us. That's what the big players do, what the stars do. If they're swinging good, they can carry a team."

Wright's double Friday was his 1,300th career hit and there's a good chance he will break Ed Kranepool's franchise record of 1,418 later this season. Wright has been more selective at the plate this year and is also more relaxed. Conventional wisdom is it's because of the Citi fences being lowered and shortened. That hasn't produced any more home runs for Wright but most Mets say it's allowed a better mental approach at the plate for everyone.

"Guys know if you hit a ball good, that you're going to be rewarded for it," Wright said. "That means a lot for us offensively. It's frustrating when you would go up there, get a good at-bat and not get the results you thought you deserved. So mentally, it's letting guys relax because they'll know they get good rewards."

Although it's been a struggle for the Mets the first two days here, Wright is pleased the club is still over .500 at 21-19 and within range in the NL East. The Mets don't look like the 100-loss team that many believed them to be in spring training.

"We knew coming into spring that we had a bunch of young, talented guys. So far, so good," Wright said. "But there's still a long way to go. We understand there will be ups and downs, especially with a young team. Each day we're getting better and better and a lot of these guys are learning on the fly, learning on the job. The more experience and at-bats they get, the better they'll get. We're kind of scratching the surface of what we're capable of."

Wright is particularly fond of the work of Nos. 4-5 hitters Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy behind him in the lineup. Murphy entered Saturday batting .331.

"My success really does have a lot to do with the lineup," Wright said. "Teams don't want to go face a red-hot Lucas Duda or Daniel Murphy so I'm getting a lot of good pitches to hit. Give them credit."

Spoken like a clubhouse leader. Wright showed some leadership in another way during Tuesday's 8-0 loss to the Brewers, when he confronted Collins in the dugout after being pinch-hit for in the seventh inning. Collins was concerned the Brewers would hit Wright in retaliation for a plunking of Ryan Braun and didn't want his star player to get hurt; Wright said he should be the Met to take one for the team if any was coming.

"I felt passionate about my point of view because I'm passionate about the game," Wright said. "I've felt more and more comfortable each year in that leadership role. Hopefully I can keep evolving to become the leader I can be."

***

Ozzie signs off

Twitter just got a little more boring. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen closed his account Thursday, telling his nearly quarter-million followers, "My last tweet. Me ultimo tweet. Good luck. Buena suerte."

But prior to that night's game, Ozzie was back to being Ozzie. Which means not nearly so diplomatic. "I hate Twitter. Everybody following me can (expletive). You can quote me on that one," Guillen said. " Don't follow me anymore. Twitter is a stupid thing. I never make money out of that. When you speak Spanish, you speak Spanish. When you speak English, you don't know how to spell 'English.' Get a real job, get a life. I don't make money out of that. I'm done."

Somehow, I'm thinking Ozzie got more than a few tweet replies that had the words "Fidel Castro" in them over the last few weeks.

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Yanks' bats sleeping

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been stubborn about changing his struggling lineup, which produced just eight hits in two games here. His party line is that it's still early.

"Offense is a funny thing and you can't succumb to pressure of your numbers May 15," Girardi said. " Hitters are going to go through peaks and valleys and if you start trying to time it, it's probably like trying to time the market. It can be dangerous."

***

Around the horn

The Yankees sat out Derek Jeter in Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays and Alex Rodriguez in Thursday's matchup. And I heard about that from Buffalo fans. What gives?

Blame the Blue Jays' turf. It's not like Astroturf of the 70s and 80s but the Rogers Centre carpet is unforgiving on knees, backs and elbows. Hamilton of the Rangers skipped two of three games here recently while nursing his back and Wright was getting at least one game off here this weekend, regardless of his head cold.

Look for Vlad Guerrero to be the Blue Jays' DH in the next couple of weeks. Manager John Farrell said Guerrero, recently signed to a minor-league deal, showed up in Toronto's extended spring camp in better-than-expected shape and is already playing in games in Florida.

Guerrero has 449 career home runs, although he had just 13 last year in Baltimore. But don't forget that two years ago in Texas he had 29 homers and 115 RBIs. The Jays hope they have another big bat in the middle of the lineup where gone-to-Triple-A Adam Lind wasn't producing.

Why Jeter is such a pro, Reason No. 347: When Toronto rookie Yan Gomes singled for his first major-league hit Thursday night, Jeter got the ball back from the outfield and immediately tossed it unprompted into the Toronto dugout on one hop so Gomes had it for safekeeping. So aware of everything around him all the time.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com