Tony Bernazard, a New York Mets executive, recently challenged one of club's minor league teams to a fight during a postgame clubhouse tirade, the New York Daily News reported, citing multiple sources with ties to the team.
Bernazard, the team's vice president for player development, pulled off his shirt and challenged the Double-A Binghamton Mets in the tirade, about 10 days before the All-Star break. He in particular targeted middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, according to the report.
The Mets will conduct an investigation.
"We do take these matters seriously and we are going to investigate these reports. ... We need to follow up and we plan on doing that," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Wednesday before the Mets finished a three-game series at Washington.
Minaya refused to detail how the investigation would be handled, how long it would take or what possible disciplinary actions could be taken against the 52-year-old Bernazard, who has held his current position since December 2004.
Binghamton had gone 1-6 during an early July homestand that coincided with the outburst, losing three of those games by at least seven runs. The team was 37-58 and in last place in the Eastern League Northern Division entering Wednesday's scheduled games.
Allegations of underage drinking on the team were apparently another factor in Bernazard's tirade, an organization source said, according to the report.
"It's ridiculous that anyone in a professional baseball environment thinks it's acceptable," a friend of several players said, according to the report.
Minaya said Bernazard spoke to the minor league team in a "stern voice," but said he had no knowledge of the particulars.
"I know he did have a team meeting with them," Minaya said, according to the Daily News. "It was not a 'you-guys-have-been-great meeting.' I know he spoke to them in a stern voice. But as far as what he was wearing, what kind of shoes he was wearing, I don't know anything about that."
Bernazard, 52, has been fingered in the media as a key influence behind the firings last season of manager Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson.
This year, Bernazard has drawn criticism because the Mets' farm system has been unable to supply players to replace injured stars such as center fielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Carlos Delgado, pitcher John Maine, shortstop Jose Reyes and setup man J.J. Putz. The depleted Mets have nine players on the disabled list.
The Daily News reported on Tuesday that at a recent game at Citi Field, Bernazard, who wanted a seat behind home plate that was occupied by an Arizona Diamondbacks scout, unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against a subordinate who suggested he wait until the half-inning was over to take the seat.
In addition, the New York Post reported that Bernazard and Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez had a heated verbal confrontation last week, when the Mets were in Atlanta.
"Yeah [it happened]. but I'm not going to talk about that,'' Rodriguez said Wednesday, according to the Post. "Not going to get into it."
It has not been a good season on the field for the Mets' top farm teams. Their top affiliate, the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, is an International League-worst 34-58 entering Wednesday's games.
Minaya said that he had spoken with Bernazard, who has returned to his home in Princeton, N.J. Minaya would not say whether Bernazard would continue his regular visits with the Mets' farm teams.
"We'll sit down and talk this weekend," Minaya said. "We'll sit down with the owners and see how we're going to handle it."
Bernazard played 10 seasons for Montreal, the Chicago White Sox, Seattle, Cleveland and Detroit. From 1992 until he joined the Mets, Bernazard was a special assistant to the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.