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Minaya gives Manuel his full support

Omar Minaya was the Mets' general manager from

Omar Minaya was the Mets' general manager from Sept. 30, 2004 until Oct. 4, 2010. Credit: Newsday

LOS ANGELES - The brilliant sunshine at Chavez Ravine Thursday served as a stark contrast with the black clouds hovering over the Mets, and specifically manager Jerry Manuel.

So it was only fitting that Manuel, with his team having lost six of seven on this West Coast trip, chose to hold his media briefing outside in the visitors' dugout at Dodger Stadium.

With the sun baking the group and Manuel feeling the heat from the latest round of questions regarding his job security, the manager noticed general manager Omar Minaya walking down a stairwell with his assistant, John Ricco.

"There's my boss right now," Manuel said. "Holler at him. Hey O, what's going on? Did you say two-year extension or what? What was that you were saying to me today? I told them I signed a two-year deal today."

While Manuel chuckled, Minaya looked a little uncomfortable. Then he got the picture of what his manager was dealing with in the middle of the media scrum.

"Welcome to New York, brother," Minaya said.

It appears the Mets don't want to give Manuel the boot right now, and Minaya drove that point home during his own dugout news conference later in the afternoon.

Minaya and Ricco huddled with Manuel in the manager's office for a closed-door meeting, and when the GM emerged, he expressed support for Manuel.

"To me, Jerry Manuel is our manager," Minaya said. "Any time you're going to have a couple of losing [streaks], those things are going to pop up. But there's no discussion at all. Jerry Manuel is our manager, will be our manager. We're very happy with the job he's done."

For Minaya to make that statement is all well and good. But Jeff Wilpon, as the team's COO, has the final say on these type of decisions, and he's been predictably quiet about Manuel's fate since his surprise appearance in Atlanta on May 17.

The Mets had just suffered a four-game sweep in Florida that dropped them into fifth place, six games out.

It's not that different from where the Mets were before last night's series opener against the Dodgers. In second place, they trailed the Braves by seven games, matching their largest deficit of the season on May 21.

Wilpon had made no plans to drop in to Los Angeles on the private jet for this weekend series, and Manuel, who speaks to the COO regularly, did not sound overly concerned as he fielded questions about his possible firing for the second time this season.

"You got on me again?" Manuel said, "That's when I run off 10 straight."

As for the chats with ownership, the manager added that those did not include his job security. Manuel's two-year deal expires at the end of this season, and with the Mets in danger of falling out of contention - or under .500 by the time they return to New York - it's an uncomfortable time. The Mets entered Thursday at 49-46 and had lost three games in the standings since the All-Star break.

"It's always a conversation about how do we get better; it's never about me," Manuel said. "I understand it. That's part of being where I'm at. I don't fault anybody or fight anybody on that. That comes with it."

After the tension of getting swept in Arizona by the last-place Diamondbacks, a terrible three-day visit that included Alex Cora airing some of his frustration in the clubhouse, the Mets seemed to be a much looser bunch before the game.

With the offense slumping badly, Manuel shuffled the lineup, sitting Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. He started Jeff Francoeur in rightfield and Chris Carter in left and put 23-year-old rookie Josh Thole behind the plate for Hisanori Takahashi.

It was one of the few bullets that Manuel has left. The manager tried a team meeting before Wednesday's game and the result was a 14-inning loss to the D-Backs during which the Mets scored a whopping total of three runs. Regardless of the outcome, however, it does not seem that Manuel is facing any sort of weekend ultimatum.

"To discuss Jerry's job status after a losing streak is just not right," Minaya said. "Teams are going to have losing streaks. He's our manager and I see him being our manager."

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