Terry Collins spoke individually with his players Friday afternoon and expressed for regret implying after the previous night's 16-1 loss that the team may have quit.
"We know we're going through a tough time," Collins said. "I'm very proud of this team, the way they played all year. The one thing I will never, ever talk about is their effort. Their effort has always been there. If you saw, Dan Murphy last night hit two double-play balls and ran both of them as hard as he can to first. I've seen guys break up double plays, take extra bases. That's not the issue. The issue has been, as a manager you sit here and you try to fix it. You try to figure out how to fix it. And you pull out all your stops. No matter what you've done in the past, you try to find an answer to it. When you don't have the answers anymore, it's frustrating.Dale Zanine/US Presswire
Terry Collins regrets implying his team quit.
"So, as I sat there on the bench last night, I was saying, 'What's my next move?' I thought maybe they need to know -- everybody's frustrated, but let's just see who's willing to rise up again and give it another shot. And so I probably did it the wrong way. But I believe in what we do here. We're going to grind it out on a daily basis.
"I talked to each and every guy today. And I know they care. There's a lot of guys playing for a lot of things in there -- be it contracts, be it jobs, be it just pride alone. But everyone plays for something. And I know they are. We've just got to continue to battle through one of the worst times that any of us have ever been in in the game."
Asked directly on Thursday night if the team had quit, Collins said: "You have to ask them."
Pressed, the manager repeated: "You'll have to ask them. I have my own opinion. I'm not going to express it publicly."
What precisely does Collins regret?
"I don't want to ever challenge anybody's integrity," the manager said with a day to reflect. "That's wrong. My players are professionals. They didn't get here without being guys that played their hearts out all the time. Sometimes you say, 'What can I say that maybe will make them mad enough to say, 'You know, I'll show that little [jerk].' That was maybe the way I tried to approach it last night. And I don't ever do that. So it might have been the wrong way. ...
"In the ninth inning, had we turned a double play, the outcome isn't as ugly as it looks. There's a lot of factors that make it look worse than it really is. Even here today, I'm here at 11 o'clock -- 12:30 I've got players coming in here going in the weight room, getting ready. One o'clock there's guys going in the cages. So it's not work. It's not that they're not working hard or they're ignoring their responsibilities. The answer is we are just not getting it done."
As for Friday's one-on-one conversations, Collins said: "I just wanted them to know that I still believed in them. We've got 13 games left -- let's play it hard as we always have. And they assured me that every one of them cared as much as I did. And I really wanted to let them know that I cared. Years ago I heard a story about some players who didn't think the manager cared during some tough times because he didn't seem like he was angry. I said, 'I don't want that ever said about me' -- that I do care, that I believe in accountability, and it starts with me. And I want them to know, look, I'll be the first one to stand up and be held accountable for what has gone on. But, by the same token, I want them to know that we set the bar high. We set expectations high. We're not living up to them.
"I'm frustrated because I take great pride trying to create a positive atmosphere and maintain that atmosphere, and therefore I think it lifts the play of the players. And it's not working. So I got frustrated by it. Unfortunately you guys had to witness it."