Terry Collins smiled and shook hands, took pictures and signed autographs, and when a fan opined on the state of the Mets’ much-maligned training staff, The manager never did break stride. His smile didn’t falter. But minutes later, Collins, now far sterner, offered a strong denial of an ESPN report that implied the trainers, along with the strength and conditioning staff is partially to blame for the Mets’ ever-expanding list of injured.
“I didn’t see it,” he said of the article, published Thursday morning. “And I don’t — first of all, I don’t believe it. I’m in every meeting. There’s no breakdown in communication. Like I said, the minute you can tell me what kind of condition you can keep blood clots from forming, or, you know, take away bone spurs, and the like, you can make a lot of money . . . There’s no guarantees that you’re not going to get hurt in this game.”
Collins on Thursday was in Albertson’s Henry Viscardi School, a facility for students with severe physical disabilities, as part of its annual fundraiser. He took the place of general manager Sandy Alderson, who was expected, but did not attend. And so, Collins, too, took the place of Alderson in facing the barrage of questions that comes along with the Mets’ situation.
“No,” he replied tersely, when asked if he was worried about his job security. (There is no indication that the Mets are planning to fire Collins, though the team’s recent swoon — a seven-game losing streak, putting them seven games under .500 — as well as the circumstances surrounding a number of high-profile injuries, mean that speculation has long begun.)
“No” he replied again when asked whether he’s had time to reflect about an upcoming milestone:: On Saturday, he will have managed the most games of any skipper in Mets history.
“It’s just games managed,” he said. “You’ve got to be lucky. You’ve got good players, you’ve got good front office to support you. I’ve been very, very lucky here. I’ve had a good time but for me, it’s another day.”
But though things do seem dire in Flushing, Collins remains the Mets’ greatest and most vocal cheerleader. With the imminent return of Yoenis Cespedes, who is expected back from his right hamstring injury next week, Collins believes the team could be one good run away from getting back in it.
Travis d’Arnaud (wrist) and Steven Matz (elbow) both started in Port St. Lucie on Thursday, and Seth Lugo (elbow) also began his rehab assignment. Matz allowed one run and two hits in three innings, with two walks and three strikeouts and Lugo pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the same game. D’Arnaud went 2-for-4 and caught seven innings.
“Things change because we’ve got a good team and we’re going to get better,” Collins said. “Every team in baseball is going through it. I just read a story last week and they think the Cubs are done. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to certainly get healthier. The attitude in the clubhouse, when we’ve got veteran guys like we do, they’ve been through this before.”
But while every team might very well be going through it, Collins did agree that he’d never seen anything of this nature before.
“If you could pinpoint it to where they were all leg injuries and they were back injuries or something you can pinpoint and say, hey look, we’ve got to change this type of training or this type of training,” he said. “But you’ve got things I’ve never even heard of before. You’ve got broken hands, you’ve got ligaments in the thumb, you’ve got guys with bad backs, guys with bad hamstrings. You’ve got, all of a sudden, blood clots. I’ve never seen all these on one team.”