NEW YORK -- Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas was born in Virginia Beach, Va., not far from the childhood home of Mets star David Wright. So when Douglas appeared at Citi Field on Thursday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, she had one other item on her agenda.
"I want to meet him," Douglas said with her trademark smile.
The opportunity came moments later, when Douglas posed for pictures and briefly chatted with Wright on the field. Then she threw out the ceremonial first pitch, drawing cheers and whistles from the fans at Citi Field.
It was not the gymnast's first experience on the mound. Before leaving for the Olympics, Douglas, who trains in Iowa, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Triple-A Iowa Cubs game.
"But this is like major, so I'm a little more nervous," Douglas said, laughing. "Everyone just tells me to throw the ball hard, so I'm going to throw it hard."
Douglas became an overnight sensation earlier this month when she won the women's all-around competition in London, also helping the Americans win gold in the team competition. Since that time, she has experienced a whirlwind tour of the nation, appearing on the David Letterman and Jay Leno shows, among others.
At Citi Field alone, Douglas spent a half hour doing around a dozen on-camera interviews with various television outlets.
But her hours of training will begin again soon, with Douglas setting her sights on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"I definitely want to continue in this sport, because I love it and I feel that I can accomplish more," Douglas said. "I want to have so many more experiences."
Valdespin bumped up to leadoff spot for finale
NEW YORK -- Looking to jump-start their scuffling offense, the Mets altered the top of their lineup for Thursday's finale with Rockies, batting rookie Jordany Valdespin leadoff.
"Obviously, we are doing anything we can come up with to get this offense kick-started," manager Terry Collins said. "We wanted to get Jordany at the top. That's where he has spent pretty much most of his career, leading off."
Valdespin's power and speed give him the natural tools to succeed as a leadoff man, as he did at times in the Minors. But his credentials also include a .276 on-base percentage and only five walks in 165 trips to the plate. Valdespin sees an average of 3.73 pitches per plate appearance, tied with Daniel Murphy for last on the team.
As a result of the move, Ruben Tejada shifted down to seventh in the lineup, marking the first time since May 6 that he had batted anywhere but first or second.
Collins not upset with Francisco after outburst
NEW YORK -- Because Frank Francisco did not injure himself in the process, Mets manager Terry Collins said he had no problem with his closer's dugout outburst during the ninth inning Wednesday.
"He survived it," Collins said, after Francisco gave up two runs and took out his frustrations on a water cooler. "One of the things that we can kind of take for granted sometimes when you see a guy like Frank, is that sometimes the persona is that they don't care. They do care. They care a lot how they do.
"These guys are all taught -- as they come through the Minor Leagues and they get to the big leagues -- to try to hide their emotions a little bit. But when you care about how you're doing, once in a while they spill out.
Forced to pitch mostly in non-save situations since returning from the disabled list, Francisco has given up eight runs over his last six appearances, spanning four innings. Twice this month, Collins has pulled his closer from save situations in favor of other relievers.
But Francisco is due $6.5 million next season, giving the Mets incentive to make sure he rights himself by the end of the year.
"I told Frank last night, 'Look, I'm glad you got angry about the results,'" Collins said. "And he said, 'Look, I'm not happy with what happened.' And as he told me earlier in the year, he's going to do something about it. He's going to get better."