ST. LOUIS - Manager Terry Collins apologized Wednesday for lashing out at Mets fans, some of whom have been critical of his handling of Jordany Valdespin, the utilityman whose antics have created tension in the clubhouse.
"Of course I regret the choice of words," said Collins, who still enjoys the support of his bosses despite the flap. "I certainly respect the New York fans. They're the most knowledgeable fans I've ever been around. They know the game, they know the players, they know the people. But I'm a human being. I used a bad choice of words but I'm also frustrated."
Collins backtracked one day after saying "I don't answer to fans," who he said "have no idea what goes on" in his clubhouse. He was responding to the perception that he exposed Valdespin to retaliation, one day after he celebrated a garbage-time homer against the Pirates.
While Collins again was forced to deal with the Valdespin fallout, along with his spiraling team, in the middle of the Mets' series in St. Louis, principal owner Fred Wilpon declined to answer any questions about his struggling franchise when he showed up for the MLB owners meetings in Manhattan.
Asked the reason for staying tight-lipped, Wilpon remarked, "because then [my comments] would be out there," and given the Mets' recent media firestorm, it probably made sense. Wilpon did concede to speaking to Alderson moments before his arrival at the MLB offices, but the GM later told Newsday it was not related to the team's current swoon. It's also not unusual for the Wilpons to defer any questions to Alderson, as Fred did Wednesday.
Alderson, however, offered his support for Collins and is satisfied with the way the manager has navigated the whole Valdespin affair, even conceding that Collins merely chose the wrong words when he dragged the fans into the whole mess.
"I think that he did misspeak," Alderson said. As for the job Collins has done so far this season, the GM insists he's fine with that, too. "I think he's handled himself well under the circumstances," Alderson said. "It's tough when you're losing games in bunches. I think he's shown considerable restraint."
Alderson also believes that Collins did not do anything "malicious" or "vindictive" in sending Valdespin up as a pinch-hitter when he subsequently was drilled on the right forearm by a 94-mph fastball.
"From my standpoint, I have no problem whatsoever with Terry or how that was handled," Alderson said.
Collins said he's focused on moving forward from the incident. Drawing from lessons learned earlier in his managerial career, Collins reiterated his resolution to maintain his cool, even as his Mets continue to struggle with every phase of the game.
"It is frustrating," Collins said. " . . . My job is to make sure they stay ready. The one way to do that is to keep them positive."
Collins, once known for his hot temper and tirades directed at players, infamously lost managing jobs in Houston and Anaheim partly because he lost authority in his own clubhouse. With the Mets teetering, Collins said he will not make the same mistake.
"To go ranting and raving, I don't know what that proves," he said. "No. 1, who do you want me to yell at? Who's not playing hard? . . . I'm not seeing that. Heck, I've seen guys play as hard as they can play. We're just not hitting and we're not pitching. We've got to get better."