When a cackling Terry Collins’ open palm landed on the shoulder of a reporter during a warm interview session with writers at Citi Field yesterday, the sound served notice that there is an emphatic new element of the Mets’ remade foundation.
Collins, formally introduced as the new Mets manager after signing a two-year contract, is back in control of a major league team for the first time since resigning from the dysfunctional Angels in 1999. Belying his 61 years, Collins made no effort to contain his excitement and passion.
With back-slapping familiarity, he took on questioners like a kind of pot-bellied baseball sergeant as he suggested he would be everywhere within the Mets organization: Teaching fastball command on the first day of spring training, having daily check-ins with each player in the clubhouse next season (“walking into their space,” he said), calling the club’s Triple-A manager every week and arguing Mets strategy over dinner with general manager Sandy Alderson.
A month into his own tenure, Alderson said his first major hiring was informed by a desire for new perpective. Collins represents a 180-degree turn from his cool and soft-spoken predecessor, Jerry Manuel, fired after the Mets’ fourth straight finish outside the playoffs.
“We were not looking for someone who was an extension of us,” said Alderson. “We were looking for someone who was going to be complementary to us.”
Max J. Dickstein (mdickstein [at] am-ny.com) is amNewYork’s sports editor.