Randolph calls players meeting in response to Wagner's remarks

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mets manager Willie Randolph called a closed-door meeting in response to the latest remarks by closer Billy Wagner, who said Friday he was being critical of the media, not his teammates.

With the Mets off to a 20-19 start following last September's collapse, questions about Randolph's future have come up on talk radio and in newspaper columns, although it apparently has not been a topic of debate in the executive suite. Randolph said there's no reason to shield players from the media tumult.

"I don't try to insulate them. I don't care that they know that my head's on the block or something like that. I mean, that shouldn't be their concern," he said before Friday's Subway Series opener at Yankee Stadium was postponed by rain.

Asked as a follow-up whether he thought his job was in danger, Randolph said he wasn't speaking seriously.

"I'm not concerned about that," he responded. "I was just making just a joke, a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing."

Third baseman David Wright called the session a "heart to heart" in which teammates were encouraged to approach each other with criticism and not go through the media.

General manager Omar Minaya said Randolph's job wasn't in danger.

"I'm very supportive and continue to be supportive of Willie Randolph," he said.

Randolph talked Friday with chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, but not about his job status.

"No need to do that. We just talked about the team and how we can get better," Randolph said.

Wagner sparked the meeting when he snapped to reporters following Thursday's 1-0 loss to Washington: "You should be talking to the guys over there. ... Oh, they're not there. Big shock."

Carlos Delgado left after Thursday's game without talking to reporters. Wagner was unhappy with the way his remarks were portrayed.

"Whoever wrote that I pointed out Delgado and was calling guys out is wrong. I don't call out anybody," he said. "We get along good around here. We lost a tough game and were a little frustrated."

Last year, then-Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca said the same three or four players spoke on behalf of the team and that others should, too. "They speak English, believe me," Lo Duca said then, remarks some interpreted as critical of the Mets' Spanish-speaking players.

Wagner was angered that some media tried to portray him as criticizing the Latin players.

"These average fans think I'm some racist," he said.

Earlier this season, Wagner criticized Mets pitcher Oliver Perez after a poor outing, saying "Perez has honestly got to step up and know that we've just used every guy in our bullpen the night before. ... He can't come out there and decide that, `Gee, he hasn't got it today and so be it."

Randolph has become accustomed to his closer's public remarks, even if he prefers that Wagner raise them internally.

"Billy is going to be honest and he's going to be straightforward when someone asks him the question. Sometimes Billy gets a little frustrated," Randolph said. "I don't try to put any gag on anyone or tell guys what to say or what to do. They just have to be smart enough to know that, you know, in some cases that you're being used and that you need to really be guarded in what you say and think about what you say.

"Billy is very spontaneous, and that's the way he is, but I'm not going to, you know, beat him up about it or anything like that. Just think a little about what you're doing and try to keep it within the house. And if you have something to say to a player, then say it to him."

Many players spoke during the meeting, which delayed Randolph's media session for an hour.

Delgado thought there was no need to bring up criticism publicly, saying "if you need to call somebody out, you do it privately and with respect."

He didn't want to discuss what went on.

"This is the boys talking," he said. "It's like my wife having tea with her friends. She doesn't tell me. Nor do I want to know."

Later, he did reveal a little bit.

"Sometimes when things are not good, you know, it's a little tense and you have to show your character," he said. "You have to overcome some issues and do whatever you need to do in order to go back to whatever normality it is."

Wright, increasingly a leader in the clubhouse, was happy with the session.

"I don't necessarily like meetings, but to clear the air, get guys talking to each other, then sometimes it's necessary," he said. "Nobody's going to hit any better, nobody's going to pitch any better, but I think we have greater appreciation for each other as teammates."

Game notes
Johan Santana (4-2), who had been scheduled to start for the Mets, was pushed back to Saturday and will be followed Sunday night by Oliver Perez (3-3). Yankees manager Joe Girardi skipped Darrell Rasner, and Andy Pettitte (3-4) will start Saturday against Santana, followed Sunday by Chien-Ming Wang (6-1). Mike Mussina is to start Tuesday for the Yankees against Baltimore, followed Wednesday by Rasner and Thursday by Ian Kennedy. ... The game likely will be made up in June. The Mets already have a day-night doubleheader Tuesday at Atlanta and didn't want to schedule another doubleheader for this week. The Yankees are scheduled to make their final trip to Shea Stadium from June 27-29, and the rainout could be rescheduled as part of a two-ballpark doubleheader. "It's a strong possibility. It seems to be directed that way," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. The teams played a game in each ballpark on the same day on July 8, 2000, and June 28, 2003.