NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Mets manager Terry Collins delivered a simple message to his team before its first game since The New Yorker posted a profile of owner Fred Wilpon on its website that contained some sharp criticism of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran — the latest in a long line of mishaps for the stumbling franchise.
Focus on what you can control, he said.
“Fred Wilpon loves this team with all his heart and I know that,” Collins said following the brief meeting.
Beltran and Reyes spoke to an apologetic Wilpon on a speakerphone in Collins’ office in the visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field, and a spokesman for the team said he was trying to reach Wright, who flew to Los Angeles on Monday to get his injured back examined by a specialist.
“He asked us how we were feeling about the whole situation, if the comments were bothering us,” Reyes said, according to the New York Post. “We understand there is a lot of frustration in the organization. We just need to move on.”
“The only thing I can control right now, like I said before, is continue to play,” he added. “You know he’s the boss. He can say whatever he wants to.”
“You don’t want to be in this situation, but it is what it is,” Beltran said. “We’re all professionals here. Like I say, all I’m looking for is to turn the page, go forward and play hard.”
A little more concentration sure would have helped Tuesday night.
Backup catcher Ronny Paulino committed two of New York’s season-high three errors, and the Mets lost 11-1 to the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game series.
“I think everyone was surprised by the comments,” general manager Sandy Alderson said. “But there’s nobody who’s more passionate about the Mets, has more empathy for the players, than Fred. I think that we all get caught up in the emotion from time to time and perhaps say some things that on reflection probably were not well chosen.”
There was more turmoil Tuesday when Sports Illustrated posted an article on Wilpon, who told the magazine the team is “bleeding cash” and could lose up to $70 million this year. He also said the club might slash payroll next year, and there could be an agreement within three weeks to sell a minority share of the team.
“Honestly, I’m not worried about that because it’s not in my hands until they approach me and tell me that they want to trade me or whatever,” Beltran said. “But right now, like I said, I’m just concentrating on trying to help this team.”
Alderson said he had not seen the SI article so he couldn’t comment on Wilpon’s remarks in the story.
LISTEN: Alderson on “passionate” Wilpon
Collins said the pregame meeting was planned before the profile of Wilpon put the Mets on the back page of New York tabloids for all the wrong reasons again. But the message was going to be about continuing to play the game the right way through a rash of injuries that put Wright and first baseman Ike Davis on the disabled list.
Most of The New Yorker article deals with Wilpon’s upbringing in Brooklyn, his real estate business and his relationship with Bernard Madoff. But the owner really let loose during New York’s 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros on April 20, when the Mets dropped to 5-13.
Sounding a lot like the team’s frustrated fan base, Wilpon disparaged the Mets’ play, called the franchise “snakebitten,” and made a couple of stinging comments about three key players.
—On the oft-injured Reyes, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, and speculation he could be in line for a big new deal: “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” Wilpon said. “He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.”
Crawford signed a $142 million, seven-year contract with the Boston Red Sox last winter.
—On Beltran: “He’s 65 to 70 percent of what he was,” Wilpon said.
“I feel that right now what is important is I’m healthy and I’m back playing,” Beltran said. “I’m enjoying the game. I don’t feel 70 or 65, I feel 100 percent and I’m glad that I’m here helping this team.”
—On Wright, a five-time All-Star third baseman and the face of the franchise: “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”
Wright, who didn’t travel with the team to Chicago, released a statement though his agent Monday calling Wilpon “a good man” who is “obviously going through some difficult times.”
“To me, David is a superstar,” said Beltran. “I feel badly for him.”
“Obviously, there’s a lot more factors going on here than just an owner of a baseball team,” said outfielder Jason Bay, who left in the seventh inning with a stiff right calf but said he was fine. “There’s a lot of things that we don’t even know about, so I can’t pretend to know and then pretend to speculate on what’s going to happen. Like I said, it’s just kind of an unfortunate turn of events.”
Wilpon is facing a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed by a court trustee seeking to recover money for victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The Mets received a loan from Major League Baseball in November to help cover expenses, and Wilpon and his son, Jeff, are looking into selling part of the team.
“To not address it would have been the elephant in the room,” said Bay. “Obviously it doesn’t sound like Fred. What’s done is done. We’ve got everybody’s back. The big thing was to not let it eat us from the inside out.”
What do you think of Wilpon’s apology? Sound off below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)