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Manuel agrees to return to Mets

Jerry Manuel has agreed to return as New York Mets manager, SI.com has confirmed. Manuel will get a two year contract, plus a club option for a third season.

Manuel, who began the season as New York's bench coach, was praised by Mets general manager Omar Minaya after steadying a group of players that had been on edge during the final weeks of Randolph's tenure.

"Jerry did a very good job taking over the club midseason, and we believe that he is the right person to manage our team and lead us to the postseason," Minaya said in a statement.

When Manuel took over as interim manager for the fired Willie Randolph in mid-June, the Mets were just 34-35, but they soon took off, going 55-38 under Manuel. But in September, they blew a 3 1/2 game lead in the NL East and were eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the season when they were beaten by the Florida Marlins.

"I am thrilled and appreciative for the opportunity that ownership and Omar have given me to continue to manage the Mets," Manuel said in a statement.

Manuel was AL Manager of the Year in 2000, when he led the Chicago White Sox to a league-best 95-67 record. He was fired by Chicago in 2003 following his sixth season as manager.

"What Jerry's done has been remarkable. You won't find a guy in this clubhouse that doesn't look up to Jerry, doesn't respect Jerry and think that Jerry's one of the best baseball minds in the game," third baseman David Wright said last Sunday. "I'll forever owe Jerry quite a bit, not only for this year but everything he's taught me since he's been here. Jerry has my utmost respect."

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