Terry Collins: Mets need to stay focused

2/10/2011 - MLB New York Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins may not utter the precise words "Ponzi scheme" or "Bernard Madoff." But the manager does intend to bring up the topic at the start of spring training, to ensure players are focused on what they ought to be doing -- preparing to win games.

"It's like [chief operating officer] Jeff [Wilpon] said: 'This is out of our control,'" Collins said Wednesday, after throwing batting practice at the team's complex. "We can only worry about the stuff that we can control, and that's our performance on the field. We're going to make sure that is brought across the first [official] day down here."

Pitchers and catchers officially report next Tuesday, but 32 players, including minor leaguers, worked out voluntarily at the complex Wednesday. The group included third baseman David Wright, catcher Josh Thole, left-handers Chris Capuano, Jonathon Niese and Taylor Tankersley, and infielders Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans.

"It means everything," Collins said about the large early showing. "The impression that this organization has had is that I'm not even sure if people think they really care. This shows you they really care. I mean, these guys have great pride in how they go about things.

"I've told the story 100 times: My first year [in 2010 as minor league field coordinator], I came down here and I didn't know any of these guys. I'm out here shagging one day and I look over and there's David Wright shagging in left field by himself. How many stars do you see do that? Not very many. So that just told me something about the personalities on this team. It's great to have them out here. You've got the young minor league guys out here watching these guys, working out with them, exercising with them. It means a lot. It's huge."

Collins planned to golf with his wife Debbie on Wednesday afternoon, reasoning those opportunities will be largely over beginning next week.

The manager threw batting practice in the morning, and Wright said Collins' personality is infectious.

"I don't think just because it's his team now that you're going to see a lot of difference in him, especially early like this," Wright said. "I think, really, what you see is what you get. He's intense. He's competitive. It makes it fun to come to the ballpark when you know you're going to have him in that mood every day. It's been fun so far, and hopefully there's a lot more of that to come."

Did the Mets need someone like Collins to shake things up and instill discipline?

"I guess time will tell, but I think it will give us a shot in the arm, which is a good thing," Wright said. "Different managers have different styles, and I don't know if there's a right or a wrong style. I don't think there's any question it's going to be a little different than what it's been in the past. I think it's going to be more up-tempo, and he's not afraid to raise his voice and get on you or try to get the most out of you. Like I said, I think that's a good thing."

Wright candidly addressed the Madoff situation involving ownership on Monday, acknowledging it inevitably will creep into the clubhouse.

"Any time you're talking about something other than baseball, it's somewhat of a distraction," Wright reiterated Wednesday. "Whether it's a small distraction or a big distraction, I guess that's up to the individual player. But the biggest thing is that this gets settled in a courtroom, or amongst lawyers, and we move on.

"As I said before, I feel for the Wilpon family. It's tough to have to go through this to begin with, but even tougher to probably do it publicly. Whatever happens, hopefully it irons itself out and we can get to playing baseball.

"Hopefully we answer the questions the first day of spring, or whenever, and move on. I know we made some signings this year who are pretty smart guys, but I'm pretty sure there's no lawyers in here. You'll see what happens on the TV and kind of move on from there, but I don't think there's anybody in that clubhouse that's going to be following it as closely as probably a lot of people think."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.