Binghamton manager defends Mets' Bernazard

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon speaks with Tony Bernazard,

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon speaks with Tony Bernazard, the team's vice president of player development. Photo Credit: Howard Simmons

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BINGHAMTON - Binghamton Mets manager Mako Oliveras said Wednesday that drinking by players and poor play led to a meeting early this month where Mets vice president of player development Tony Bernazard took off his shirt, but that he did not challenge any players to fight.

Oliveras said the team bus driver told him there was an empty beer can on the bus, a violation of team rules. Oliveras said the drinking was limited to one or two players, and just one beer can. Infielder Ruben Tejada, 19, was part of the circle of players drinking but didn't drink himself, according to Oliveras.

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Oliveras said Bernazard did take his shirt off in an effort to pump up a team that's now 22 games below .500, but that he had a T-shirt underneath it.

"I'd put my head under an 18-wheeler that what happened here has been blown out of proportion," Oliveras said. "Tony doesn't deserve what he's going through right now."

Infielder Jose Coronado, who the Daily News reported was insulted vulgarly by Bernazard, said he had no problem with him. Catcher Josh Thole said the story was taken "way too far."

Oliveras denied that players were upset with the meeting Bernazard held. "What happens in here, it stays in here,'' Oliveras said. "That might be a smoke bomb, trying to put the blame on the players."

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