Randolph focused on stopping Mets' skid, not job status
DENVER -- Even with his team on a five-game losing streak, Mets manager Willie Randolph was able to joke about his job status.
General manager Omar Minaya made the holiday weekend trip to Colorado, leading to speculation that Randolph is under evaluation and his job could be in jeopardy.
"I thought I saw him in the back sharpening his machete," Randolph said before Saturday's 9-2 win against the Rockies. "I don't know if that makes me feel too good. He saw me coming, kind of slipped it in his back pocket."
Minaya and Randolph haven't had any significant conversations this weekend outside of idle small talk.
"Obviously, when all this stuff is going on around me, when he shows up, 'Why is he here?'" Randolph said. "I'm comfortable around Omar and I told him he should come on more road trips, be around the team. I don't feel any different about him being here."
Randolph and Mets executives planned to meet soon to review the team's play a quarter of the way through the season. Following a 13-inning loss in which Billy Wagner blew a ninth-inning lead, New York began Saturday with a 22-24 record, 4½ games back of NL East-leading Florida.
"We need to play better," Randolph said. "That's the most important thing to me."
Minaya said Friday night that he came to Denver to voice his support of Randolph.
"I'm just so hell bent on winning the game right now, whether Omar is here or not -- whether they support me or not," Randolph said. "I'll go down to the last day trying to win a ballgame. That's why I'm here, that's why I came here. A lot of stuff is out of my hands."
All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, picked off second base following his 10th-inning double Friday, stuck up for his manager on Saturday.
"He's one of the best guys in the game," Reyes said. "I love Willie. We are the ones to play. He don't play. He has to make the decisions. We're the ones performing in the field."
Randolph understands his shortstop's loyalty. He felt the same way when rumors swirled around Billy Martin when they were together on the Yankees.
"As a player, you feel for your manager," Randolph said. "If something did happen, you feel a little responsible for it. I always tell my players the only thing they can control is to go out and play the game."
Ryan Church is day to day with a mild concussion and Marlon Anderson went on the disabled list Saturday with a strained left hamstring. In his place, New York purchased the contract of infielder/outfielder Nick Evans from Double-A Binghamton.
Randolph said he hasn't lost sleep -- even after Wagner gave up his first earned run of the season, a tying homer to Matt Holliday.
"It didn't really bother me like some games would, where you can't sleep," Randolph said. "There were some good things that came out of last night -- just didn't close the deal."
Randolph, the Mets' first black manager, created a stir with comments he made that appeared Monday in The Record of Hackensack, N.J. He mentioned that race may have been a factor when he questioned the way he has been presented by SNY, the team's TV network, and the criticism he's received in the media. He has since apologized.
"It shouldn't have happened," Randolph said. "I'm going to leave it like that. I'm at peace and fine with what I went through this week because I know in my heart it didn't happen that way. So, you deal with it and kind of stay focused on what you're doing and keep going."
Speaking to a few reporters before the Yankees played Seattle, Reggie Jackson said he had tried getting in touch with Randolph to offer support.
Jackson didn't give Randolph a free pass for the way he brought up the subject of race, but said it's an important issue to discuss. He also lamented the lack of diversity in the commissioner's office and among team executives.
Randolph thinks the team is one good stretch away from ending all the speculation over him.
"We're going through a little lull right now," he said. "But another month or so this could be a distant memory."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press