WASHINGTON — Wally Backman insists that he resigned as the Mets’ Triple-A manager — as opposed to being fired — because he felt disrespected by being passed over for multiple openings on the major league coaching staff.
“The respect was an issue,” Backman said Tuesday during an interview on WFAN radio. “I’ve done everything I could for the organization.”
Backman, 56, has been a longtime fan favorite dating to his days with the world champion 1986 Mets. But his time with the organization has come to a messy end, with a dispute erupting over the very nature of the separation.
General manager Sandy Alderson said on Monday that Backman stepped down, and Backman himself said a day later that he “left on his own” to pursue other opportunities. But multiple sources said the fiery former second baseman was dismissed, the product of simmering disputes regarding player development.
Backman rebuffed the notion that he had shown a long-standing pattern of defiance during his tenure as the club’s Triple-A manager, a reason that sources cited for tension between Backman and the front office.
Said Backman: “Whoever put that out there, the source within the system, they lied, and that’s the part that [ticks] me off because I did nothing except try to help these guys.”
Backman specifically challenged the assertion that he hadn’t played Michael Conforto against lefhanders, going against the wishes of the organization. He noted that Conforto started 31 of 33 games in the minors and saw plenty of action against lefties, going 20-for-41.
On Monday, a source told Newsday that Backman resisted the club’s preference to have former first-round picks Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki hit higher in the lineup more frequently.
Cecchini batted first or second in roughly half of his games, though only after spending most of the season’s first half hitting in the bottom third. Plawecki hit mostly sixth and seventh.
Backman did not address either issue specifically, though he told WFAN that the organization needed to improve its communication.
Alderson declined to comment.
Mets manager Terry Collins wished Backman luck, calling him a “good baseball man” and a friend.
Said Collins: “I hope he gets in the right spot for him, and the right fit, and he ultimately gets to where he wants to get to.”