Terry Collins passionate in opening address to Mets

Terry Collins shares a laugh with the players

Terry Collins shares a laugh with the players during a spring training workout. (Feb. 18, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins had taken notes. During his first few weeks in Florida, every time he remembered something he wanted to say to his fully assembled team, the Mets manager scribbled the message on a sheet of paper. He had three pages worth of notes, which he later cut to half a page.

Yet even with a game plan in mind, Collins called an audible Monday morning. Once he scanned the clubhouse, seeing a mix of big-league veterans and unproven youngsters, Collins ditched his fiery address in favor of something more tempered.

At least, that was his intent.

"He starts pretty calm and it just gets progressively louder and louder and more excited," David Wright said. "I think he made it even a point to say he wasn't going to get too fiery in the speech.

"But by the end of it, he's yelling and screaming at us. So it's the same old Terry."

Indeed.

By the end of his morning address, Collins' voice could be heard through the walls of the team's complex.

"He just has a passion and a fire for what he does, and I think that it rubs off, especially on the younger players," Wright said. "When you see your manager that passionate about giving a speech on the first day, you probably got 29 other clubs with managers saying pretty similar stuff, but you can tell how much he cares and just the passion he has in the words."

Collins settled on a few key points, which included dismissing the modest expectations for the Mets.

"If we get beat or lose a game, it's not because we're not supposed to win because we're not good enough," Collins said. "That's not true.

"Today is the biggest day of the year for us as a staff. Certainly, we set the tone, not only for spring training but what the expectations are as we head into the season."

Collins harped on playing mistake-free baseball and the importance of efficiency. For one day, at least, the message seemed to stick.

Once the team took the field for the first time, the complex was filled with the sound of metal cleats grinding into the dirt of the warning track. Players moved briskly from field to field, reporting to their coaches for various drills.

It was exactly as Collins had envisioned.

Said Wright: "It seemed like we were doing something every minute of the day."

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