MIAMI — Mickey Callaway’s job appears to be safe, still.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen said he “absolutely” expects Callaway to remain the Mets’ manager the rest of the season. That is the strongest vote of confidence yet for Callaway, whose employment status has been the subject of external speculation as the Mets have fallen out of contention early for the second time in as many years under his leadership.
“Mickey has done a difficult job very well,” Van Wagenen said. “Our results in the standings aren’t where we want to be. I know he shows up to work every day with a passion to win and a desire to work and get better, and so I’ve been very satisfied with that.”
What has Callaway done well?
“He’s managed that clubhouse,” Van Wagenen said. “It has not been an easy year with the expectations that we had and the shortcomings of our performance. He has held that clubhouse together, and I think that is one of the best characteristics that a manager can have.”
Said Callaway: “I do take pride that our players come to play the game every day. I don’t know how much that has to do with me. It’s probably more about who they are as players and competitors.”
Van Wagenen disagreed with the perception/idea that Callaway is a “puppet” for the front office and ownership.
“I don’t see Mickey as a puppet at all,” he said. “We work together and I think that Mickey has had challenges in front of him because of the adversity on the roster, because of some of the performance of the players that we brought in, and that is not on him. I think that the puppeteering is such that, I understand the question, but I don’t agree with the premise.”
Lowrie hurt again
Add another injury to Jed Lowrie’s list: a right calf strain.
That’s at least his third physical issue of the year. It started with a left knee capsule sprain in spring training, then a left hamstring strain in May, then ambiguous left-side issues in recent weeks.
Van Wagenen said it is a “low-grade” strain this time. The Mets don’t know when or if Lowrie will play this year.
“His strength on his left side is really good,” said Van Wagenen, Lowrie’s former agent. “[The calf strain] he started to feel as his workload was ramped up on his latest recovery. We’re going to take care of that.”
The Mets made a long-reliever swap, calling up Chris Mazza from Triple-A Syracuse and designating Wilmer Font for assignment. Font had a 4.94 ERA in 15 games after joining the Mets in a May trade with the Rays . . . Brandon Nimmo (bulging disc) has been playing catch and running, Van Wagenen said. July 18 marks the end of his one-month shutdown from what the GM called “high-workload baseball activity,” after which the Mets hope he can begin a more vigorous buildup . . . The Mets released outfielder Matt Kemp from his minor-league contract. He played in eight Triple-A games before landing on the injured list a month ago because of the lingering effects of a broken rib suffered with the Reds in April. A Mets spokesman said the release was a “mutual agreement.”