PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Perpetually easygoing Mets manager Jerry
In an incongruously happy Mets camp, where some seem to border on delusional, Manuel engaged in a bit of gallows humor that fit his sticky situation. When one writer whimsically suggested that the first ever Mets' no-hitter could occur this July 13, and Manuel was asked what he would say about this, the manager responded, "I might be calling you from California.''
Manuel, a Sacramento resident, was suggesting that he might no longer be in New York by then. He has humor, plenty of perspective and he also knows the score.
Later, he coolly backed away from that statement when pressed about what could have been construed as a dire prediction. "I was talking about the All-Star break,'' he said with a chuckle, which happens to take place July 12-14.
The man is nothing if not quick. If he thinks on his feet like that, he might stick around the whole year, and he may even have his 2011 option picked up. It's amazing how relaxed he seems. Because it's no stretch to think that he may have the most tenuous position in baseball.
"We've got to do well,'' Manuel said.
That goes for himself and his team. Manuel knows that he needs a strong start after a season in which the Mets won only 70 games, which his Mets' bosses describe as "poor.'' The Mets were devastated by injuries like no other team, but lapses in defense and baserunning were noted, too, as partly reflections on Manuel, whose superb 55-38 finish in 2008 seems like a distant memory.
When reached by phone on Thursday, Mets owner and COO
The Mets do have a chance to be better with
Manuel wears glasses but they aren't as rose-colored as a lot of folks in the Mets clubhouse. When asked if the team is as good as they're saying internally, Manuel responded, "We'll see. We've got to pitch well. If we pitch to our potential, we've got a shot. And obviously, things have to go our way. With the squad we have, we have to stay healthy.''
Manuel is under contract only for 2010, unlike his immediate boss, Mets GM
Minaya also has a longstanding close relationship with Mets owner
Understandably, Mets people are trying not to delve too deeply into the subject of their manager's status now. Wilpon says, "We're going to get off to a good start, we will be healthy and you guys will be pushing Omar to give Jerry an extension.''
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