Among the tasks charged to general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins when they accepted the challenge of rebuilding the Mets was implementing high standards to a team that had mastered the art of inadequate and indifferent play.
The Mets seem headed for another long winter with their 53-58 record and extended losing streak at Citi Field. But Collins was adamant in his pre-game press conference before the series finale against the Marlins that neither can be used as an excuse.
“We are still somewhat young. The one thing I want these young guys to understand is this is not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination,” Collins said. “Losing is not acceptable. We don’t even need to get into the reason why things are going south right now. You still have to come out and play.
“Losing can be as contagious as winning. One of the things you’ll see on teams that lose is guys all of a sudden don’t want to be the one held responsible for the loss,” Collins said. “‘Hey, I got a hit,’ or ‘Gosh, I pitched my inning without giving up a run,’ and worry about themselves instead of the team itself. Those are the things that need to be addressed.”
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Turner keeps positive
One person Collins does not have to worry about is Justin Turner. Along with being a respectable bat (.288 batting average and .325 on-base percentage), the utility infielder is highly valued for his positive demeanor and an ability to keep the clubhouse loose.
“He’s one of those guys. … We used to call it that Southern California makeup,” Collins said. “He’s nice and loose; he doesn’t get too excited about something. He just handles all situations very easily. He doesn’t get too tense and he can play baseball; he’s a baseball player.
“He gives you good at-bats, he can play any position you want [and] he catches the ball,” Collins said. “He has a good arm.”
But on a team where there are open jobs, Turner is hamstrung because the infield positions are set. The free agent to be only has 118 at-bats this season.
“I told him yesterday the hardest part is the first baseman [Ike Davis] has 20 home runs, the second baseman [Daniel Murphy] is hitting .300, the shortstop [Ruben Tejada] is hitting .300 and the third baseman [Wright] is hitting .300,” Collins said. “Pretty hard to get him in there. But he keeps himself prepared and that’s why he’s good to have on the club.”
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.