Report: Club denied Valentine's permission

The Mets learned last week that they had been denied permission to speak with former manager Bobby Valentine, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Five candidates to fill the job vacated by fired manager Art Howe have been interviewed to date, including front-runner Willie Randolph.

The Mets had designs upon making Valentine, a favorite personality in New York, the sixth candidate in that crowded field. However, the team's request to interview Valentine was rejected by his current employer, the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League.

Valentine and GM Omar Minaya met informally over dinner recently in New York, but that did not constitute an official interview.

In six-plus years as Mets manager from Aug. 1996 through 2002, Valentine compiled a record of 536-467 and guided the team to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history. He has two years remaining on a three-year contract signed with Chiba Lotte before the 2003 season.

The Mets hope to announce their new manager by the end of the week.

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