Mets name coaching staff

The Mets announced all but one of the components of manager Willie Randolph's coaching staff on Wednesday, with a hitting coach the only absence. <P> "[Mets GM] Omar [Minaya] and I talked to a lot of qualified candidates and we had a lot of tough decisions, but I couldn't be happier with the composition of the staff," Randolph said.

Sandy Alomar, Sr., a one-time former Met and a highly-regarded bench coach with the Colorado Rockies, received a two-year contract to serve in the same capacity for New York, filling a spot left by Don Baylor's departure.

Former Montreal Expos coach Manny Acta – who guest-managed one of the franchise's last games at Shea Stadium at the urging of Frank Robinson – takes over for Matt Galante as third base coach, while former Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manuel will replace Gary Pettis as the Mets' first base and outfield coach.

Minor league field coordinator Guy Conti represented the only promotion from within the organization, as Conti successfully interviewed for New York's bullpen coach job. Pitching coach Rick Peterson is the only holdover from Art Howe's coaching stable.

Minaya said that the club is still "exploring" candidates for the vacant hitting coach position, but it is widely believed that the job has already been promised to Rick Down, a roving instructor in the New York Yankees farm system.

The Yankees have not provided permission for the Mets to interview Down, despite the fact that Randolph met with Down this month in Tampa, Fla. Down's contract with the Yankees expires on Dec. 31, at which time he is expected to take the Mets job.

Head trainer named

The Mets also announced the hiring of Ray Ramirez as the team's new head trainer, succeeding Scott Lawrenson.

Ramirez, 41, is a native of the Bronx who has served as an assistant trainer with the Texas Rangers for the last 13 years.

He attended Hofstra University and Long Island University, breaking into the sports training profession in 1983 with the Mets organization. Ramirez worked with several Mets farm clubs before taking a position in the Minnesota Twins system in 1986.

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