WASHINGTON (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins was meeting with reporters in Nationals Park's visiting clubhouse Wednesday, preparing for a series of questions about lineup decisions, when GM Sandy Alderson spoke up from the back of the room.
''Hey, Terry. Here's your lineup for tomorrow,'' Alderson said, then reached over and handed a blue card to Collins.
Finishing the bit, Collins put the prop in a pocket and joked, ''I was waiting for that all day.''
Before their team even played its second game of the season, Collins and Alderson were drawn into a debate over whether the skipper or the front office is figuring out who bats where. That includes curiosity about Curtis Granderson leading off instead of Juan Lagares, David Wright's move to the No. 2 spot from his usual No. 3, and pitcher Jacob deGrom being scheduled to hit eighth instead of ninth against Washington on Wednesday.
''Well first of all, you want to know who wrote that lineup? Who came up with it first? And he came up with it on about February 18 - (bench coach) Bob Geren,'' Collins said. ''So I mean, sources around here, a lot of them don't know what they're talking about.''
Asked whether he's been told who should play and who should sit, Collins replied: ''Absolutely not.''
''The one thing the manager has in his power is this,'' Collins said, referring to a lineup card. ''He's got one hammer, and that's who plays. And I am certainly very, very lucky to have that hammer.''
Alderson, for his part, said later: ''Terry and I rarely have conversations about the lineup.''
Alderson added: ''Look, I didn't have any conversation with Terry about the lineup. I didn't talk to Bob Geren about the lineup. I was probably as surprised as many about the lineup. But that's his prerogative.''
A reporter asked Alderson if he can imagine what fan and media interest in the lineup might be midway through the season, given all of the attention this early.
''I think what happened was, people were surprised by the lineup. People don't like surprises, whether it's the media or fans or other people in baseball who've got everything figured out,'' Alderson said. ''So when there's a surprise like that, people are scrambling around for some sort of rationale or explanation. And sometimes it gets a little crazy. So that's what I chalk it up to. Mostly. Around here, anyway.''
Before the pregame back-and-forth about lineups, Collins spoke about using Jeurys Familia as the primary closer while Jenrry Mejia is on the 15-day disabled list because of inflammation in the back of his pitching elbow.
Mejia went on the DL on Tuesday, a day after his right elbow tightened up while he was trying to warm up for the ninth inning of the Mets' 3-1 win at Washington.
''He was very scared,'' Collins said.
But an MRI showed there was no structural damage.
''We'll just fill in until he gets back,'' Collins said.
''We'll piece it together. It depends on what the situation is going to be. If Jeurys shows us he can get lefties out in some certain situations, he'll be the guy,'' Collins added. ''But you know, we are very fortunate to have three lefties down there if there's a case where, hey, look, we just think our best option is going to be bringing the lefty, we'll go there. But right now, Jeurys is going to close.''
Freelancer Ian Quillen contributed.
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