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Terry Collins using playoffs as a learning experience

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, left, and

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, left, and New York Mets manager Terry Collins, right, talk during batting practice before the Los Angeles Dodgers play the New York Mets in Game 5 of baseball's National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Lenny Ignelzi

LOS ANGELES -- The Mets did a lot of learning over the past week and a half, which was the first headfirst dive into the postseason for many of them. That goes double for the 66-year-old rookie calling the shots.

"Well, you learn that there's a huge sense of urgency. Every out means something. Every run is hard to get," Terry Collins said. "Every day seems like it's the last."

One thing nobody had to tell the Mets manager was that you need to embrace every moment, especially Game 5 Thursday night against the Dodgers, because there is no guarantee you ever will have another one like it. Collins is a baseball lifer and this was his first chance to manage in the postseason. And he does not even have a contract for next season, which might or might not be a formality. In any case, it hasn't mattered.

Collins decided at the start of the series to take it all in and, like his players, put it in the memory bank, where it can pay dividends someday.

"There is no, 'Hey, look, get through the day.' So it's been a whole different experience as far as game maneuverability: Guys you're going to use, when you're going to use them. You might pinch hit earlier than you ever thought about doing because this might be your only chance," he said. "You face a Zack Greinke and you look up in the sixth inning and say, 'Hey, we've got second and third, and one out and here comes the pitcher. Holy cow, this might be the only time we have a chance to score.' It's just a whole different mindset when you're running a game."

Another thing that nobody had to tell Collins is to have the time of his life. As the series progressed, win or lose, he was just as animated and candid as ever. The postseason makes some managers more guarded and uptight. It has had just the opposite effect on Collins. Like the time he was asked if he had a preference about facing Clayton Kershaw or Alex Wood in Game 4. No way was he going to give a polite, diplomatic non-answer answer. He said that of course he had a preference. He didn't want to face "that monster," Kershaw, who did start and won.

The national broadcasters who have private access to managers before games noticed -- and told Collins -- that his personality came across, loud and clear.

Mets reliever Tyler Clippard said Thursday, "He communicates well with his players, and I like that. That's one thing that's very important for players, to be able to have a rapport with their manager, not afraid to knock on the skip's door and go in there and speak to him about anything on and off the field. And Terry brings that to the table."

Collins also brought a sincere hunger, regardless of his comment Wednesday that this postseason is just gravy. He has been in touch with his mentor Jim Leyland, a World Series winner, and he has been in touch with the instincts and lessons he has learned in pro ball since 1971. Whether or not this is his last postseason run, Collins has made it a feast.


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