Collins doesn't have time on his side

Manager Terry Collins of the New York Mets Manager Terry Collins of the New York Mets during batting practice before playing against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. (May 27, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4, ...

David Einhorn is in it for the long haul. The Mets' prospective minority investor and lifelong fan said as much in his introductory conference call the other day.

Other Mets fans -- the ones without $200 million to donate to the Save the Wilpons (For Now) Fund -- are in it for the long haul, too.

Even if the team isn't very good, even if those fans don't come to Citi Field, they'll hang around the periphery, watching games on TV, reading about the team in the newspaper. If the team gets better, they'll come all the way back. It's one of the immutable laws of sports.

Terry Collins is not in it for the long haul. The Mets' manager has a two-year contract. He has a team devoid of the kind of talent that his counterpart Saturday night, Charlie Manuel, has with the Phillies.

Collins can't afford to be as patient as Mets fans are going to have to be. He can't afford to be as patient as Einhorn apparently is willing to be, what with a reported option to take over majority control of the franchise in three years in his still-to-be-completed deal.

So when Collins looks at the disabled list and sees his corner infielders, David Wright and Ike Davis, he can't take a wait-and-see attitude.

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"I did that once in Anaheim," Collins said before Saturday night's 5-2 loss to the Phillies. " 'When we get these guys back . . . ' And I forgot about the guys we got. That's not going to happen right now. They're not here. We don't know when we're getting them back. We can't worry about when we're getting them back. We've got to worry about what we're doing today."

Collins managed the Angels from 1997-99. In his final season, he waited for injured players such as Jim Edmonds and Gary DiSarcina to come back. They didn't come back fast enough and Collins was fired, not to get another big-league job until Sandy Alderson hired him in November.

Alderson said Wright and Davis "possibly" could return by the end of this 10-game homestand. Later seems more likely.

Wright is here and is working on strengthening the muscles around his lower back, which has a stress fracture. Davis is in Port St. Lucie, Fla., taking batting practice on the field and working out in a swimming pool while his left ankle sprain and bone bruise slowly heal.

"I'll be more encouraged when I hear he starts running," Collins said. "That's got to be the next step. I don't even care if it's sideways."

The key play in Friday night's 6-4 loss to the Phillies was a grounder that skipped past Daniel Murphy for a go-ahead single in the ninth inning. Davis eats that ball up and probably starts a double play in his sleep.

But if that thought entered Collins' brain, he didn't share it. He didn't talk about what might have been if Davis, and not Murphy, had been his first baseman.

"A lot of guys can make that play," he said. "Dan's mad because he let the team down. [I told him], 'Look, this is the big leagues. You're not perfect.' "

Lamenting the unavailable was something Collins' predecessor, Jerry Manuel, did for two consecutive summers. Manuel would say things such as, "We have to tread water until the troops come back," which he said in June 2009, and the troops wouldn't come back in time.

In 2010, Manuel's tune was "Wait for Beltran and Bay and Hope for a Better Day."

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Collins could try, "Davis and Wright and Things Will Be All Right."

But he's not a believer in sad songs. Or he can't afford to be.

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