Backman backs out of managerial consideration

Wally Backman removed himself from consideration for the Mets' managerial vacancy Thursday morning, clearing the way for the club to name Art Howe's successor sometime in the next week.

With Backman opting to forego his scheduled interview in favor of concentrating on his pursuit of the Diamondbacks' managerial job, Yankees bench coach Willie Randolph has stepped securely to the head of the pack.

No further interviews are scheduled by GM Omar Minaya, meaning that the Mets' next manager will come from the pack of Randolph, Terry Collins, Rudy Jaramillo, Jim Riggleman and Carlos Tosca. Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine met with Minaya informally over dinner recently but never received an official interview and is not thought to be a candidate.

The Mets had been considering Randolph as their lead candidate for some time, with his winning credentials, Brooklyn roots and potential status as New York's first African-American manager scoring significant points in the interview process.

But thanks to what was reported to be a write-in campaign on the part of Mets fans, the organization agreed to give a look to Backman, an infielder on the Mets' 1986 World Championship team. GM Omar Minaya was set to interview Backman on Thursday in St. Louis.

However, Backman – currently a manager in Arizona's minor league system – pulled out of consideration early Thursday, instead saying that he wished to focus on his pursuit of the Diamondbacks' job, for which is he is competing with Bob Melvin and Manny Acta.

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