Nobody with the Mets will say the franchise turned itself around when it replaced Willie Randolph with Jerry Manuel. However, thereâ€™s no mistaking the difference in mood from the last time the Mets were here Memorial Day weekend.
“That was another difficult moment,â€™â€™ Manuel said. “It was a tough time for Willie. We werenâ€™t playing well.â€™â€™
The Mets had just been swept in a four-game series at Atlanta, which was the backdrop from Randolphâ€™s apology to ownership for his comments criticism of him was racially motivated. General manager Omar Minaya flew in for the first game of the series to give Randolph a lukewarm vote of confidence and said the apology ended the matter.
However, this week Minaya admitted those comments created an atmosphere of tension that never fully dissipated after Randolphâ€™s meeting with the Wilpons when the team returned to New York.
The Mets are still a .500 team, but thereâ€™s a feeling a cloud has lifted.
“I donâ€™t want to say itâ€™s a relief,â€™â€™ David Wright said when asked to recall the clubâ€™s first Denver trip. “Everybody feels for Willie, but not having that distraction is a positive thing. â€¦ The front office had to make a decision sooner or later.â€™â€™
PREGAME NOTES:Â Manuel refuted a published report (Post) that accused him of working to undermine Randolph to the front office. Manuel said heâ€™s been on the phone several times with Randolph and considers him a friend. â€¦ Ryan Church, on the disabled list with post-concussion syndrome, will begin working out with the team when it returns to New York. After several days the plan is for him to play several rehab games for Single-A Brooklyn. â€¦ Moises Alou, on the disabled list with a strained left calf muscle, has begun some light jogging. Manuel said he would handle Alou conservatively when he returns. “I want to get that bat in the lineup,â€™â€™ Manuel said. â€¦ Damion Easley was at second base last night for the second straight game. “He hit a game-winning home run,â€™â€™ said Manuel, who will reward his bench players with more playing time. “You have to perform.â€™â€™