LAS VEGAS -- Wally Backman will return to manage the Mets' Triple-A affiliate when it begins play in Las Vegas next season, general manager Sandy Alderson announced yesterday.
Backman's future with the organization appeared hazy when he did not receive an appointment to manager Terry Collins' coaching staff. Backman has long harbored hopes of landing a coaching or managerial job in the major leagues.
"If he were to get a major- league job elsewhere, I'm sure he'd consider it," Alderson said. "But in the meantime, we're looking forward to having him here. He's part of Mets history. He does a nice job for us on the field and we expect he'll do that again here."
The Mets will face plenty of challenges with their move to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, a member of the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The team's stable of young pitchers, including Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, will face difficult conditions because of high elevation and extreme heat.
The situation is far from ideal for the Mets. Alderson, who joined COO Jeff Wilpon, Collins and other team executives on a tour of Cashman Field Thursday, likened the situation to a game of "Old Maid." When the Blue Jays moved their Triple-A team to Buffalo, the Mets' old affiliate, the cross-country Las Vegas 51s were left as the team's only possible destination.
Visit to Vegas?
The Mets have had preliminary talks about having the big- league team play an exhibition in Las Vegas. Said Alderson, "Nothing definitive at this point, but we're certainly open to it.''