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Jerry Manual - What, me worried?

By Jim McNierney

Manuel’s interview before the Mets-Nationals pre-season game recently found him openly considering his lineup choices and the subsequent sequencing of his offense. As the pre-season draws to a close, a fan has to believe that we are getting close to the lineup that will be taking the field against the Reds in the season’s opening series.

Contrary to that notion, Jerry indicated the following:

He believes that barring injury, Delgado will be the cleanup hitter. He also seemed to indicate that he felt Carlos Beltran and David Wright could be interchangeable in the #3 and #5 holes in the lineup.

He’s stated (several times now in this pre-season camp) that he likes Daniel Murphy (Manual has already given Murphy the starting left fielder’s role) and was considering him for the #2 spot in the lineup as late as the second week in March. Now, he’s stating that he is going to allow Luis Castillo an opportunity to win that position in the lineup.

Earlier this spring, he made comments akin to wanting to put Luis Castillo in the lead off spot dropping Jose Reyes to potentially the middle third of the lineup. This had the effect of stirring up some strong feelings from Jose Reyes (and Luis Castillo). Since Reyes’ return to camp after the World Baseball Classic, he has assumed his regular spot as the lead off hitter.

The Mets manager also was quoted as saying he was considering mixing the balance of the lineup up regularly in an effort to keep everyone fresh and to offer each of those players an opportunity to succeed.

A casual observer might think that this manager has either been playing some pretty elaborate mind games with his charges or that his decision making prowess might be questionable. To date, there seems to be little said by the players themselves except on occasion, a comment akin to “he’s the boss”.

Manual has been the beneficiary of being a coach to these players prior to being elevated to the role of manager. His relationships with the players seemed to be molded in that earlier experience but, further shaped by the way he has handled them (and the press) since that promotion.

In the first inning of his very first game as manager, he was seemingly tested by one of his marquee players. Jose Reyes had potentially strained his leg muscles running to first base. He was visibly hurting but didn’t want to leave the game. Manual confronted his young star on the field and escorted him back to the dugout. After this game where his judgment had been very publicly and visibly challenged, he shrugged off the question in the post-game press conference. He admitted there was a difference of opinion but, downplayed the importance of this dissension in his ranks. Hopefully his lineup choices will result in motivation of the team resulting in improved performance while not contributing to any controversy or conflict.


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