Terry Collins denied a report that Jonathon Niese cursed at him in the Mets' dugout after the pitcher ignored a signal to bunt in the third inning of his final start.
Speaking to a television crew yesterday, Collins said that "if that quote was accurate, there would have been a fight in the dugout."
The report in the Daily News also said that Niese, who has shown displeasure at being pulled by Collins in the past, told his manager to take him out of the game.
Later, Collins was even more direct. "That is not true," he said, referring to the published reports. "I don't know what that came from. I will tell you, I'm a changed guy in a lot of ways, but if I ever had a player say that to me, especially on the bench . . . uh, it didn't happen.''
Collins said the two did exchange heated words but patched things up shortly after and that there are no lingering bad feelings.
"I said, 'I understand how you are.' He never wants to come out of a game. That's the way he is," Collins said. "No player in my 40 years has ever said that to me to my face. Ever. So that didn't happen."
General manager Sandy Alderson said the fallout from the exchange would have "no impact whatsoever" on whether Niese is traded this offseason. He also made reference to past skirmishes between Niese and Collins.
"I don't know to what extent that incident was different than maybe a handful of others that happened from time to time," Alderson said. "Jon isn't always happy when he comes off the mound. I don't know if I'm aware of that particular incident."
Alderson expressed confidence that both the pitcher and manager have moved on.
"It's more about how that moment affects the relationship moving forward, whether there's lingering anger by one party or the other," Alderson said. "That's not Terry, and that's not Jonathon."
Niese could wind up being moved, regardless of any past tensions with Collins. Entering the offseason, rival executives identified Niese as a potential trade chip because of his track record and team-friendly contract.
Niese, 28, went 9-11 with a 3.40 ERA last season and is 52-51 with a 3.87 ERA in his career. He's owed only $7 million next season. Through a pair of team options, the lefthander might not reach free agency until 2019.
The Mets remain in the market for a shortstop and perhaps a lefthanded reliever. But this early in the offseason, they are not expected to move quickly on either front.