Mets vs. Yankees: Pre-game chatter

By Jon Lane
Lots of housekeeping before first pitch in a little more than an hour. I spent most of my time in the Mets’ clubhouse where the discussion was about the intensity of the Subway Series, the team’s unbelievable injury situation and a mini-controversy about a column written by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal in which he suggested that Manuel, in baseball parlance, “throws guys under the bus.”

More on that shortly, but on the Yankees’ side a Twitter post by Red Sox owner John Henry ruffled the normally placid Mark Teixeira. Shortly after Texieira lined out to first last night to complete the Yankees’ eighth straight loss to the Red Sox, Henry wrote “The MT curse,” a reference to Teixeira spurning the Red Sox offer and going to the Yankees as a free agent. It wasn’t the first time the organization had their chance at landing the slugger, but was denied. As their ninth-round pick out of high school in 1998, the Red Sox couldn’t sign him then either.

“I play the game the right way.  If anyone has a problem with the way I play then they can take their shots at me,” Teixeira said.

“How old is Mr. Henry? There’s no reason to get into with a 70-something year-old man about baseball. If I’ve offended anyone from the time I was 18 years old to now, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what else to say. I think it’s a little silly. It’s actually very silly. There’s nothing else to say.”

Teixeira put the topic to bed by putting aside the 0-8 stigma and focusing on the Mets. And there’s action in that locker room as well. If you thought the Yankees’ injury situation last year was bad, what Mets are enduring is worse. Already without Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, J.J. Putz, Oliver Perez, Angel Pagan and Ramon Martinez, John Maine was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday night with weakness in his surgically-repaired right shoulder.

Fernando Nieve, a waiver claim from the Astros late in Spring Training, was told after the Mets’ loss to the Phillies on Thursday that he will take Maine’s place tomorrow here at the Stadium and will be evaluated start-by-start. Nieve debuted with two scoreless relief innings last Saturday at Washington after he was promoted from Class AAA Buffalo when Putz was put on the DL.

“I’m going to try and treat it like a regular game,” Nieve said. “I’ m excited about it, but I’m thinking like it’ll be a normal game. I’m a baseball player and I have to be focused on what I’ve been doing. If you start thinking about that stuff I don’t think you’re going to do out there.”

As for Manuel, Gary Sheffield and David Wright were quick to come to his defense. Before the topic was broached, Sheffield credited Manual as being the ideal leader to help an injury-plagued team weather the storm until its stars are finally back and healthy.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Sheffield said. “But at the same time you have to have a strong-willed team to go through something like this. And it starts with our manager holding us together the way he has. To be able to do that speaks volumes about him and this team. We just have to continue to keep our focus. “

Wright added he’s heard no complaints from players believing Manuel has thrown anyone under the bus and that all the players enjoy competing under him. Ironically, it was just under a year (June 17, 2008) when Manuel replaced Willie Randolph partly due to allegations that Randolph had lost the clubhouse.

“I love playing for Jerry — that’s false,” Wright said. “I think Jerry brings a nice dynamic to this team. He keeps us loose and jokes around. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, he’ll get on you if you need to be get on. I have zero problems with Jerry. He’s done a phenomenal job with the injuries and always getting the most out of his players.”

I don’t see this going any further. Rosenthal wrote a thesis citing facts before forming his opinion. It wasn’t an attack and he didn’t cite anyone speaking in confidence. Manuel wasn’t even asked about it during his pre-game press conference.

Back with a lot more as the night progresses. The sun’s been out for almost an hour and the skies are clear. About time, too.

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