Mets' All-Star trio focused on second half
Wright, Johan, K-Rod excited for Classic, stretch run
ST. LOUIS -- Monday was supposed to begin a holiday for the Mets, their reward for slogging through the first half of the season without a good deal of their potency. For most of that span, the Mets have answered questions regarding what they lack -- namely Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado. And Monday provided three of the most successful Mets with no respite.
At a hotel just north of Busch Stadium, the Mets on Monday continued to discuss their team, their goals and their fragile place in the standings. Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez and David Wright -- the three Mets All-Stars -- sat behind adjacent tables and delivered their own versions of the State of the Mets.
Beltran, an elected All-Star starter, would have joined them if not for the bone bruise in his right knee. As it was, the Mets in attendance offered similar previews of what awaits them on Thursday, when their season restarts with a new urgency in Atlanta.
"I could have 40 saves in 40 opportunities," said Rodriguez, who has 23 in 26, and who blew three out of eight opportunities after converting his first 16 in a row. "But if our club is not where we need to be, we're not doing our jobs. You cannot see it in a personal way. You have to see it in an overall way. The bottom line is we've got to be better."
His teammates, who will represent the Mets at Tuesday's 80th All-Star Game, have had their share of problems, too. Take Wright, for example -- despite a gaudy .324 batting average, he has hit for little power and ranks fourth in the National League in strikeouts. Santana, after a blistering first two months of the season, lost four games and posted a 6.19 ERA in June.
Yet the successes of those three have outweighed their struggles, making Santana, Rodriguez and Wright the primary reasons why the Mets believe they still have a shot in the crowded National League East.
Wright wrapped up his first half on something of a down note, though he still leads the Mets in runs, RBIs and stolen bases, with 20. Santana's 10 victories represent just less than a quarter of the team's overall total. And Rodriguez's 23 saves rank within two of the Major League lead.
"It's tough for me to assess because the team's not doing what I want the team to do," Wright said of his individual merits. "For me, it's always a failed mission when your team's not in the position where I want to be in. Some of that has to do with injuries -- there are no excuses for it. Some of it has to do with poor play. But the fact of the matter is we're not in first place. We're not where I want to be, so it's tough to give an individual grade when we as a team aren't where we're supposed to be."
Still, Wright, Santana and Rodriguez have ranked among the most consistent bright spots for the Mets.
In St. Louis, they will provide experience for the National League. Wright, an All-Star starter at third base for the third time since 2006, has played in each of the past four Midsummer Classics. Santana missed the game last year in his first season with the Mets, but played for the American League in each of the previous three seasons. And K-Rod has represented the Angels three times since 2004.
In his first All-Star at-bat, Wright hit a home run. He is 3-for-9 in the game for his career, and is eager to play in another.
"I'm going to really soak it in," Wright said. "You never know when this is going to be your last one. I've been fortunate that this is my fourth one. If you would have told me when I was a kid that I could go to one All-Star Game, I would have signed up for that on the spot."
Santana and Rodriguez have also seen their fair share of All-Star success, though it has admittedly been brief. In his three appearances, Santana has fired a total of three shutout innings. And in his own three appearances, Rodriguez has pitched just 1 1/3 scoreless innings, uncharacteristically walking three batters.
Santana said that Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen has discouraged him from pitching in the game due to the 114 pitches that he threw in last Saturday's win over the Reds. But Santana planned on meeting with the NL coaching staff later Monday to find out for sure.
"Just to be here right now, it's a great honor," Santana said. "It is my first time to represent the National League, and I'm very excited about that. I'm looking forward for many years to come to have an opportunity to come here and to represent the National League."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.