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Manuel to return as Mets manager

The Mets have decided to bring back Jerry Manuel as manager despite the disappointing end to their season, SI.com has learned.

Manuel is expected to be approached to hammer out a new contract in the next day or two. The Mets again failed to make the playoffs after losing 4-2 to the Marlins on the final day of the season. But Manuel's bosses believe he did an excellent job under trying circumstances, including late-season injuries to closer Billy Wagner and starter John Maine and an overall bullpen breakdown. The Mets were 55-38 under Manuel after starting 34-35 under Willie Randolph.

"I told Jerry we're going to have a decision sooner rather than later,'' general manager Omar Minaya said. 'He's done a very good job, and we're going to sit down and talk about it.''

The Mets lost 12 of their final 17 games last year to blow a seven-game lead with Randolph as manager. This year they were 7-10 over their final 17 games.

Mets owner Jeff Wilpon said, "I feel totally different than last year. I think last year we underachieved. This year we overachieved.''

The parties have not begun negotiations yet. But Manuel made clear he wants to return, saying, "Obviously, you'd have to have a great deal of interest in job like this. This is probably one of the best places to be if you want to do some things.''

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