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Randolph lobbies for Mets coaches as rumors about Peterson, Nieto swirl

6/17/2008 - MLB New York Mets

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Willie Randolph emerged from the visiting manager's office at Angel Stadium on Monday, looking a little tired and wearing a gray T-shirt that read "Property of the New York Mets."

That he is -- for now.

But nobody seems sure how long Randolph will remain the team's manager, or whether his coaching staff will stay intact. Randolph's job appears to be in jeopardy, while reports Monday indicated pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto could be fired soon.

"If you believe what you read I guess, or whatever, that's a possibility," Randolph said before the Mets' 9-6 win against the Los Angeles Angels. "But they're here, they should be here, and that's my main concern. No one's said anything to me. In [New York], you hear things all the time, so you just take it with a grain of salt and just get it from the people that know. And no one's really said anything to me about it, so that's the way I look at it.

"It's hard," Randolph added. "I mean, these are the guys that I brought here. Those are my guys, and they work hard every day at what they do. So you don't ever want any speculation about them losing their jobs. I think it's unjustified. It's not comfortable, but I know that that stuff is out there all the time. So I don't let it affect me."


Triple-A New Orleans manager Ken Oberkfell, whom the Mets have considered promoting to the parent club to replace Nieto, told Andrew Marchand of 1050 ESPN New York he hasn't heard from the Mets.

The New York Daily News reported on Monday that general manager Omar Minaya joined the team in Los Angeles.

A team insider told the 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.

During their 47-year history, the Mets have fired their manager eight times while a season was in progress. The last time was 1996, when Dallas Green was dismissed with a 59-72 record and replaced by Bobby Valentine.

The Mets improved to 34-35 with Monday's win, but remained 6½ games behind first-place Philadelphia.

On the field, the Mets are trying not to get distracted by the uncertainty of Randolph's status.

"I think it's unfortunate that the players have to deal with that stuff," Randolph said. "I think they deal with it pretty well, but I think what bothers them more than anything is the questions about it. What can they do? They can't do anything but go out and play the game. We spend so much time talking about all this extracurricular stuff, man. This team needs to just focus on playing winning baseball."

When asked if he senses that his players are doing their best to rally around him, Randolph said: "I don't really feel like they're looking at it as any type of rallying around me. They could be, but I haven't taken any polls.

"I just assume that they're going out to win a ballgame. And that's really what we think about and talk about as a team -- how we can get this thing going. Period. I just wish we can get back to that, because that's really what it's all about. That's the way we started out in spring training, and that should be the main focus here."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.