Randolph remains on shaky ground as Mets embark on western swing
NEW YORK -- As the New York Mets cleared their clubhouse before a bus ride to the airport, Willie Randolph wheeled his suitcase down a Shea Stadium corridor with no public assurances that he'll manage their next game.
Randolph and his inconsistent Mets split a doubleheader Sunday with Texas, taking two of three in the series to complete a 3-3 homestand.
But afterward, general manager Omar Minaya wouldn't even say that Randolph will definitely be at the helm Monday night for the opener of a three-game set at the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels.
"These are our coaches today," Minaya said. "I think we're not playing up to our potential. I always leave room to evaluate things."
That could mean Randolph doesn't have much time left. After the Mets dropped two of three to Arizona last week, reports said he might not last through the Rangers series.
Randolph and his staff were still around when the weekend ended, with their $138 million team owning a 33-35 record that left it 6½ games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
Triple-A New Orleans manager Ken Oberkfell, whom the Mets have considered promoting to the parent club to replace first base coach Tom Nieto, told Andrew Marchand of 1050 ESPN New York he hasn't heard from the Mets and plans on managing his team Monday night in Oklahoma City.
Meanwhile, Minaya said Sunday he plans to meet the team Monday in Anaheim, Calif. 1050 ESPN New York is reporting that Minaya has yet to fly to Anaheim and did not travel with the team Sunday night, but is likely to travel there sometime Monday.
A team insider told the New York Daily News that Randolph's job might be spared during any initial shakeup.
"I think the coaches are in trouble. That may be the compromise for now," the source told the newspaper. Besides Nieto, pitching coach Rick Peterson has been mentioned as a possible target of any coaching shuffle.
On Sunday, Randolph took his situation in stride.
"It's out of my hands," Randolph said after the doubleheader. "I'm here to do a job and hopefully I'll be here for a long time. I don't know what people around here are thinking. I can't assume anything. I haven't heard from anybody."
Later, Minaya emerged from the manager's office -- more than an hour after Sunday's second game.
As for the players, many insisted they're focused on winning rather than trying to save Randolph.
"We're not worried about his job," center fielder Carlos Beltran said. "That hasn't changed."
Added reliever Billy Wagner, who closed out a 4-2 victory in the nightcap to snap a slide of three consecutive blown saves: "I'm not out there saying, 'Oh jeez, if I don't get this done, Willie's going to be fired.'"
And the way third baseman David Wright figures it, a winning streak would clear up everything.
"It's getting tiresome talking about it, that's the only thing," he said.
Earlier in the day, Randolph made light of his uncertain status. He acknowledged that when he packed for the road trip, it occurred to him that he might not even be on the flight to California.
He didn't know whether he needed a doubleheader split or perhaps a sweep to keep his job.
"I might lose both and I still might be on the plane. I don't know," he said, drawing laughs.
"Just because I don't know, I'm not going to do anything out of character," he added. "The way that we've been playing, every day we need to win. Every game is like that. You manage it like it's your last game. We've got to win games, so that's not going to change. We're still, I wouldn't say desperate, but we've still got to win games."
Randolph said recently that all the speculation about his job has made it more difficult to sleep, but he said he enjoyed having his family around over Father's Day weekend.
"Lot of support, lot of love," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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