Our friend, Steve Popper, of The Record, northjersey.com writes about Manuel’s first in-game test as the new Mets’ manager in his article “WEB EXCLUSIVE: Manuel tested before first inning was over.”
Go to The Record’s web site for the full article, portions of which, are below…
Here is what you saw. Jose Reyes trying to shake off a tight left hamstring as he ran down the first base line to start the game – and the debut of Jerry Manuel’s tenure as Mets’ manager. Manuel, without a chance to even sit down is on the field, talking to Reyes and trying hard to convince Reyes that he will not take a risk and he should be out of the game. Reyes finally breaks away from him, angrily shouting and throwing his helmet, stalking to the clubhouse.
And here is what you didn’t see. Manuel heading into the clubhouse after the half-inning is over, talking to Reyes, explaining himself and making himself clear, too. Reyes would apologize not only to Manuel, but to his teammates. And then Manuel had to confront his first crisis just one batter into this stage of his career.
“Well, you know, Jose is a guy who loves to play and hates to come out of a ballgame,” Manuel said. “And I think historically when he first got here, that was one of the things that kept happening to him. So, he kind of gets real frustrated when you do that. The one thing I love about him is that attitude. He wants to play. He wants to be on the field. He came back out and apologized to his teammates.
“Those types of things, the behavior is pretty much unacceptable. But the attitude, we just have to put it in the direction we need for us to win ballgames. What happens, normally he can shake it out and he feels better. But me, this being my first game, I didn’t want to lose Jose Reyes for an extended period of time. I said, ‘No, I’ll let you squiggle and squirm, but you’re getting on out of here tonight. You can be mad all you want to, you can throw rocks, sling snot, cry all you want, but you’re coming out.’”
Reyes seemed contrite after, embarrassed that he had lost his temper. “I already apologized to Jerry about that,” he said. “I’m hungry for the game. I just want to play the game, but he (made) the best decision there because it’s a long season. He wants me to stay healthy all season long.” Perhaps the damage control there was the only thing that went right for the Mets Tuesday – whether it was in their clumsy handling of Randolph or the play of the team on the field.
(I love that Manuel is showing his players that he is in charge of them, and not vice-versa. Wright wanted to play 3B last night, and was TOLD he was going to DH. Willie used to let the players dictate to him. With Manuel, it's going to be the other way around. Good for him ! Words cannot describe how happy I am to see Manuel follow Reyes into the clubhouse, and stay in there to solve the situation, even if it meant that Sandy takes over for the bottom of the first. Managers are paid to manage the varying egos of 25 different personalities. Manuel was managing Reyes, a player he will need production from, and he stayed with Reyes to manage the situation. Outstanding job by Manuel whose first impression is that he is taking this opportunity very seriously, realizing it may be the last managing opportunity he may receive. I already feel sorry for Manuel. What's the over/under on the calendar date, when Jerry Manuel has a full head of gray hair ? He's inherited a three-ring circus.)