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Dave Hudgens says Mets owners should 'let the purse strings loose'

Mets batting coach Dave Hudgens, left, talks with

Mets batting coach Dave Hudgens, left, talks with Carlos Beltran before a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, May 24, 2011 in Chicago. Credit: Ap / Charles Rex Arbogast

Deposed Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens took to the airwaves Tuesday, when during two separate radio interviews, he maintained his defense of the organization's hitting philosophy and suggested that general manager Sandy Alderson has been hampered by ownership.

"If they want a winner in that town, I would let the purse strings loose and let Sandy do what he wants to do," Hudgens told Michael Kay on ESPN Radio. "I know what Sandy is capable of doing if he was making all the decisions but nowhere in baseball is the general manager making all the decisions. That's just the way the game is."

Nevertheless, Alderson downplayed budgetary concerns, even though the Mets have slashed roughly $60 million in payroll since 2011. "We spent $85 million and we expected a little more at this point in the season than we've gotten," Alderson said. "So I don't believe payroll is the issue."

Alderson also tried to dispel the notion that the decision to fire the hitting coach came from ownership, as Hudgens suggested to Newsday on Monday night. He called the decision his responsibility.

"Look, I talk to ownership from time to time, sure," Alderson said. "I talk to Fred [Wilpon], I talk to Jeff [Wilpon], and I have a sense of what they're thinking or what their frustrations might be. But ultimately, I have to make a baseball decision, I guess, and that's what this was."

Hudgens blamed Citi Field's dimensions -- particularly right-centerfield -- as part of the reason David Wright has experienced a power dip.

"That's where a lot of David's power is and his natural swing is," Hudgens said. "He's probably hit five or six balls that would have been out anywhere else, just not that ballpark. This field was not designed with him in mind, there's no question about that."

During his media tour, which also included a segment with WFAN's Mike Francesa, Hudgens reiterated comments he made regarding fans to on Monday. He said that the booing may have contributed to the team's ongoing offensive struggles at Citi Field.

"The fans have a right to boo because they show up to the ballpark and pay good money and the Mets have very loyal fans, they're great fans and they're passionate," Hudgens told Francesa. "My point was that it doesn't help -- the guys are really trying hard."

New Mets hitting coach Lamar Johnson acknowledged he was surprised when he received Alderson's call to become the new hitting coach. Johnson has spent the last 10 seasons as the Mets' minor-league hitting coordinator.

"We just want guys to be aggressive when they get their pitch to hit," said Johnson, 63, who served as hitting coach of the Brewers, Royals and Mariners. But he hasn't functioned in that capacity since 2003. Since then, technology has changed and scouting reports become more sophisticated.

Both Alderson and manager Terry Collins acknowledged there would be a learning period. But for now, Johnson said he will devote his time to gaining a sense for the Mets' hitters during game situations.

"What I try to do is I try to observe them and then if I see something, I'm the type of guy that I will let them know what I see and then we'll go from there," he said. "Right now, I'm just observing a lot of things."

With Gene Morris

New York Sports