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Manuel calls team meeting after Cora's outburst

Mets Manager Jerry Manuel looks on from the

Mets Manager Jerry Manuel looks on from the dugout against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (July 20, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

PHOENIX - Alex Cora's message was directed mostly at the media when he publicly expressed his frustration in the Mets' clubhouse after Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks.

But manager Jerry Manuel followed Wednesday afternoon with his own message during a 15-minute, closed-door team meeting. With the Mets limping through a 1-5 road trip, and facing a sweep by the lowly Diamondbacks, Manuel decided it was time to rally his club in the only method left at his disposal.

As usual, Manuel's words were positive, and he was the only person who spoke during the meeting. He expressed the need to stick together, and emphasized the fact there is plenty of time left to turn things around.

Manuel's track record with team meetings has been pretty good this season. Back on May 21, after a 2-6 trip through Florida, Atlanta and Washington, Manuel crammed all the players into his own office for some group therapy. The Mets responded by winning 19 of the next 25 games.

The theme of yesterday's meeting was similar to what Manuel told reporters earlier in the afternoon when asked if the Mets were approaching a dangerous point in the season after losing 21/2 games in the standings since the All-Star break. Before last night's series finale in Arizona, the Mets trailed the first-place Braves by 61/2 games.

"We felt coming on this trip that the one good thing about this trip is that it's early enough in the second-half schedule that if it's what it is, we still feel we have a good enough team and enough time to overcome that," Manuel said. "You don't want to necessarily see that manifest itself because that puts some pressure and urgency on the club.

"It's the West Coast trip, it can be a difficult trip, but we still have to try to win some games. Is it a lost [cause]? Not by any stretch. There's just too much time left to be able to put together a 20-out-of-25 streak or something like that. We've still got time to do that type of thing."

If so, the Mets may have to start adopting the type of attitude that Cora expressed after Tuesday's loss. Cora's outburst was directed at reporters - with Mike Pelfrey in the middle of the chuckling crowd - and there was nothing vague about its intent.

"A little respect please," Cora shouted. "They just stuck it up our -- !"

Cora emphasized Wednesday that he was not trying to scold Pelfrey, who had been talking to reporters in front of his locker when the laughter erupted. He also stressed that there was no bad feelings between him and Pelfrey - and Cora made sure to say it was not indicative of any bigger clubhouse rift. Just maybe the need to get a little angry and take out that frustration on the D-Backs.

"Coming here, it's a series that you look at on the schedule, and nothing against them, but it's something to get to where we want to be, we've got to beat these guys," Cora said. "We do care about winning and losing. We know where we're at and we know we need to starting winning games. I think that was part of the whole deal."

When Manuel was asked about Cora's eruption, he appreciated that Cora was ticked off after another frustrating loss.

"He's a pro," Manuel said. "He knows the etiquette of baseball of the locker room and those types of things. That's just a normal reaction of a guy that knows the responsibility of how you should react in certain situations. I have no problem with that at all."

Cora said the best quote he ever heard about winning and losing came from Manny Ramirez, of all people, with the Red Sox down 3-1 to the Indians in the 2007 ALCS. Cora paraphrased Ramirez, who said that if Boston lost, "it's not the end of the world, but at the same time, we understand we have to start winning games." That's where Cora believes the Mets are at the moment.

"We know we're better than this as opposed to how we're playing right now," Cora said. "If there's anything positive about it, we understand where we're at, what we need to do and hopefully we can turn it around."


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