Terry Collins recently lost two important figures in his life. On consecutive days this weekend, the Mets’ manager will attend funeral services for a high school coach who became a mentor and a peer from Michigan who became one of his closest friends.
At 67, Collins is the oldest manager in the big leagues, a job that he insists keeps him young. But he also has reached a point of self-reflection, and he said his recent losses served as a reminder of a decision he faces when his contract runs out.
Will he manage past the 2017 season?
Collins has yet to make a call either way.
“I love what I do,” Collins told Newsday by telephone on Thursday. “I love managing in New York. It’s kept me young, it’s kept me energetic. But I just had two friends die and all of a sudden it hit me. They were retired and they got to enjoy it. All I’m saying is with what happened to me at Milwaukee, at the end of the year [in 2017], I’m going to evaluate where I am.”
Collins fell ill before a June game against the Brewers, experiencing lightheadedness and dizziness that prompted an overnight stay at a hospital. That episode, along with the passing of his friends, was reason enough for him to evaluate his own situation.
“It’s made me think,” Collins said. “Especially with what happened to me in Milwaukee, you don’t want them carrying you out of the clubhouse, that’s all I’m saying.”
Earlier in the day, in an interview with ESPN.com, Collins spoke of the rigors of the job. The year after an appearance in the World Series, the Mets dealt with injuries all season long. Before a 27-12 surge that secured a postseason berth, they were 60-62 and 5 1⁄2 games out of the second wild-card spot. Though Collins’ job security was never in serious doubt, he nevertheless faced questions about his standing.
“This was a tough year,” he told the website.
Collins seemed surprised by the attention that his ESPN.com comments garnered. He was eager to emphasize that he has not yet made any decisions. For now, he does not consider next season to be his own personal retirement tour.
“Right now, I’m not looking for any presents, believe me,” Collins told Newsday. “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens, see how I feel. If I feel good, if things go good, I may keep on. Otherwise, it may be . It always may be your last year.”
Collins’ comments were consistent with his previous thoughts about his own future.
Even after he signed his two-year extension last season, Collins indicated that he might be finished managing at the end of his contract. He told Newsday during the Mets’ postseason run last year that at some point, he wants to enjoy retirement with his wife, Debbie, and his grandchildren. Collins is an avid golfer and also hoped to devote time to that sport.
Collins has a 481-491 record in six seasons with the Mets, one of the longest managerial tenures in franchise history. He has helped oversee the club’s on-field transition from also-rans to contenders. That ascent is one of the reasons he will not rule out managing past next season.
Of course, Collins has been around long enough to know that staying on past next season ultimately might not be his call.
“I manage in New York,” he said. “I could be gone by April.”
But Collins said he expects the Mets to be contenders again next season. And if the Mets “win like I think we should,” he could envision returning as long as he’s feeling up to the job physically.
“Look, any year may be your last year,” Collins said. “If I’m healthy at the end of next year and the team wants me to return, I may return. I may not. I don’t know. But right now, I’m going into this very optimistically saying we’ve got a very good team. I think we should win. Especially if we get our pitching back and have it be healthy, I think we’ve got a great chance to win, and win big.”