Mets exercise Collins’ option for 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Terry Collins is getting more time to turn around the New York Mets.

The Mets exercised the 2013 option on their manager Tuesday, announcing the move shortly before their next-to-last game of the season.

“I’m proud of the way the players have played,” Collins said after the Mets lost to Cincinnati 5-4 in 13 innings. “We’re not happy with the wins and losses. But we hung in there.”

And that impressed Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

“He’s done just a terrific job,” Alderson said. “He’s earned it.”

The record may not totally reflect that: The Mets are 76-85 this season after going 79-83 last year before firing Jerry Manuel.

But Alderson and Mets management liked what they saw from Collins, who came in with the reputation of having a hot temper yet never boiled over in the midst of a trying situation. The team has money woes because of the Bernard Madoff scandal, lost ace Johan Santana and other top players to the disabled list and dealt away All-Stars Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

After getting off to a poor start, the Mets rallied and actually were 55-51 in late July — on the day they traded Beltran. Missing banged-up Jose Reyes and David Wright, the Mets struggled the last two months.

“He never used injuries or trades as an excuse for the performance of the team,” Alderson said.

Said Reyes: “He’s been doing an unbelievable job for all season to keep us together.”

Told that Collins had been hired through 2013, rookie pitcher Dillon Gee welcomed the news.

“He’s a real good communicator,” said Gee, a bright spot at 13-6 this season. “He tells you exactly where you stand, you don’t have to read about it before he tells you.”

“He’s fiery. He knows when to yell and not to, he doesn’t pull any punches,” he said.

Added pitcher Chris Capuano: “He creates a great, positive atmosphere.”

The Mets gave Collins a two-year contract with a team option when they hired him in November, choosing him over fellow Mets employees Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Wally Backman.

Collins had not managed in the majors in the previous 11 years. But he had been the Mets’ minor league field coordinator in 2010 and the team management liked his familiarity with the young players.

Despite this being the Mets’ third straight losing season, the 62-year-old Collins has helped, Alderson said, to “change the perception of New York Mets baseball.”

“Terry’s gone a long way toward doing that,” Alderson said.

A tough task, considering the Yankees also play in the neighborhood. But Alderson didn’t want the Mets to be perceived as sad-sack losers, a lackluster team where players wouldn’t always carry out the basics, such as running out balls.

This is Alderson’s first year as the Mets’ GM. He said he’d talk with Collins on Thursday, a day after the season ends, on the status of the coaching staff.

Alderson said he’d been thinking the last couple of weeks about picking up Collins’ option.

“Very definitely did not want to interrupt the momentum he has created,” Alderson said. The GM also wanted to stabilize the club, rather than leaving Collins as a lame-duck manager next season.

The Mets’ most pressing issue this offseason will be the status of Reyes. The star shortstop, who led the NL in batting going into the final two days, is eligible for free agency and will command a rich contract. His ability and value, however, have been hampered by recurring hamstring weakness.

Asked to describe Reyes’ season, Alderson said: “Extraordinary first half. Good, but checkered second half” because of injuries.

“Definitely someone we’re going to try to retain,” Alderson said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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