Willie Randolph Q&A

Inside Pitch caught up with Mets manager Willie Randolph recently to discuss his anticipation of spring training, the team's offseason moves and more (Free Preview of Premium Content):

With spring training just a few weeks away, what will you be looking for from your team?

Well, first and foremost, it's going to be an experience of getting to know all of these guys a little better, get a better read on what they're able to do and basically who's going to want the position most. I made up my mind, and I told the guys this, that no matter what happened in the past, this is a clean slate. This is my first year here and as far as the guys should be concerned, this is a fresh start. It's now up to each guy to step up and show me what they've got. I want hungry players who want it the most, and hopefully everyone will come into camp ready to give me their best.

How important was it to have the opportunity to get to know some of your players during the January minicamp and last week's Winter Caravan?

It was more of a getting-to-know-you deal, trying to match a lot of new faces to their names and basically trying to just establish a relationship with each guy. Like I said though, the clean slate begins in February and I'm looking forward to seeing each guy, that's really when we can begin to evaluate. The minicamp wasn't about evaluation as much as just watching drills and taking part in classrooms.

Was there anything you picked up as a result of those sessions that you hadn't learned in your research before getting the Mets job?

I'd say there were bits and pieces here and there, but we can really start to take close looks at guys next month. That's the fair way to do it. But yes, before I got the job, there was a lot of catching up to do, because even though we're in the same city as the Mets, my focus has been on the Yankees.

What are your thoughts on the trade for Doug Mientkiewicz?

Well, Doug's going to give us a very solid glove at first base. I've watched him over the years in the American League and I can tell you that he's a real solid presence on the field, and he should be an asset for us defensively as well as offensively this year. Having a guy like that on the field should also help out with what I see as a very talented but young infield.

What has been the most surprising part of being the manager of the Mets so far?

I don't know that there has been a surprising part just yet. I'd say it would have to be the passion of the New York fans, and how badly all the Mets fans I run across just want to wish us well and watch us win. They definitely take it more seriously than we do, if you can believe that. It seems like everyone in New York – even a lot of Yankees fans – are just rooting for us to win big this season. I'm hopeful that with the guys we've added in the last few months, we'll be able to make that happen.

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