CHICAGO -- In what the Mets hoped was the start of the healing process, Fred Wilpon apologized Tuesday to Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, via speakerphone, in the tiny manager's office at Wrigley Field.
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"Everybody's on the same page," Collins said, "and it's moved past us. He just said sorry that it happened, sorry it got out and we said don't worry about it. We're going to move forward. We're big-leaguers. We're men. Our job is to play baseball."
This was an expedient cleanup job by the manager, who jokingly described the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday night's game against the Cubs as "special." After the Mets absorbed a turbulent day off in Chicago, Collins rounded up his players for a clubhouse meeting Tuesday afternoon.
His initial plan was to dispel the belief that his injury-ravaged team is "undermanned," but the discussion veered into the whole Wilpon situation. The players seemed most upset that individuals such as Beltran, Reyes and Wright had been singled out.
"It's a big story, we get that," Jason Bay said. "To not address it would be the elephant in the room. Obviously, it doesn't sound like Fred, but what is done is done. We've got everybody's back.''
With Beltran and Reyes, the problem is more personal. Beltran knows the drill. In the last year, he's been targeted by ownership, first for the dispute about his knee surgery and later, more covertly, for being one of three players to skip a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center. To him, this just seemed like another speed bump on his way out of New York.
"This is the first time I heard Fred comment on the team and on the players in particular, so basically it surprised not only me, but everyone," Beltran said. "At the same time, I just feel that in the years that I've been with this organization, I have given everything I have, and I have left everything I have on the field. I'm just going to continue to play hard for this team until my last days here."
When asked if he felt appreciated by the Mets, Beltran hesitated a moment before answering.
"For my teammates, I have to say yes," Beltran said. "For other people, I don't know. But I care about what my teammates think about me."
Beltran took exception to Wilpon saying that he is only "65 to 70 percent of what he was." The former All-Star centerfielder, who moved to right before this season, has performed better than expected.
"In the years that I've been here, this is not the first time that I'm in a situation where I have to address the media about what somebody says about me," Beltran said. "I feel that right now, what is important is that I'm healthy and I'm back playing, I'm enjoying the game, I don't feel 70 or 65 percent. I feel 100 percent.''
As for Reyes, he kept deflecting the questions to a similar answer. Having grown up in the Mets' organization, Reyes felt stung by the criticism, but he didn't speak out against Wilpon, who said the shortstop wouldn't get a Carl Crawford-type contract ($142 million) because of his medical history.
"It surprised me a little bit, like everybody else," Reyes said. "But at the same time, I just continue to play the game and don't worry about anything that happened. The only thing I can control is to continue to play. He's the boss and he can say whatever he wants to.''
General manager Sandy Alderson also used the word surprise when talking about Wilpon.
"Everyone was surprised by the comments, but there's nobody who is more passionate about the Mets, has more empathy for the players than Fred,'' Alderson said. "I think that we all get caught up in the emotion from time to time and perhaps say some things that on reflection probably were not well chosen, but I know he's reached out to the players involved and has talked to most or all of them at this point and it's time to move on."