Mets COO Jeff Wilpon promised on Tuesday that Omar Minaya would be issuing yet another apology for his verbal attack on a newspaper reporter during Monday's now infamous news conference.
But that apology did not come before yesterday's game against the Rockies was washed away at Citi Field and there was no guarantee from the club that Minaya would be ready to face the media Thursday, when the Mets will play a split-doubleheader.
Wilpon described a "shaken" Minaya on Tuesday and asked the media to give the embattled GM a day or so to compose himself before stepping in front of the cameras again. The Mets, however, have no idea when that will happen.
Minaya's friends have described him as still a little beaten up over Monday's incident, when he accused Daily News reporter Adam Rubin of "lobbying" both he and fired VP Tony Bernazard for a player development job in the organization. The public backlash could have a lasting effect on Minaya as well.
According to a friend, the once affable GM seemed a little gun shy at first about facing another round of questioning from reporters about the humiliating episode. But the friend also predicted that Minaya would bounce back before long and the Mets haven't forced him into the spotlight just yet. Even Wilpon said on Tuesday that Minaya would "make the organization proud."
Minaya could get a head start on rebuilding his damaged reputation by closing a deal before tomorrow's non-waivers trade deadline, which is at 4 p.m. The Mets, now six games back in the wild-card race, are talking about a number of potential swaps to improve themselves for the final two months and beyond.
Those discussions have included the available list of lefthanded relievers, among them the Nationals' Joe Beimel and the Pirates' John Grabow, according to a person familiar with the situation. But they don't feel pressured to pick up one, based on the brilliance of Pedro Feliciano and the imminent return of Billy Wagner.
Perhaps the best acquisition could be Wagner, who is expected to begin his rehab assignment Saturday with Class A St. Lucie. Wagner is consistently throwing 94 mph with good command of his slider and changeup, but the Mets realize the biggest test will come when he finally appears in a game.
Pitchers tend to push the envelope in competition with that added burst of adrenaline, and there is always the worry that could lead to more problems. But Wagner has made it this far without a setback, and the Mets are hopeful he can pitch on a regular basis - with as little as a day off between appearances - when he does return.
As for giving Feliciano a breather, Jerry Manuel doesn't sound too concerned about that. Feliciano has not allowed an earned run at Citi Field this season, a stretch of 222/3 innings, and has a 2.63 ERA in 41 innings overall. Manuel has tried to get Feliciano out of games quickly to preserve him as well.
"I'm OK with it," Manuel said. "He has learned to warm up properly, and except for [Tuesday] night, his workload has been very light."
With Minaya staying out of sight Wednesday, the focus mostly returned to baseball for the Mets, and Manuel was not even asked about the front-office distractions for the first time this week. The team hopes that soon will be the case for Minaya. But neither the Mets, nor their GM, are quite there yet.
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