WASHINGTON — Before his team’s 2-1 loss to the Nationals on April 8, Mets Manager Terry Collins was meeting with reporters, preparing for questions about lineup decisions, when GM Sandy Alderson spoke up from the back of the room.
“Hey, Terry. Here’s your lineup for tomorrow,” Alderson said, then reached over and handed a blue card to Collins.
Finishing the bit, Collins put the prop in a pocket and joked, “I was waiting for that all day.”
Before their team even played its second game of the season, Collins and Alderson were drawn into a debate over whether the skipper or the front office is figuring out who bats where.
That includes curiosity about Curtis Granderson leading off instead of Juan Lagares, David Wright’s move to the No. 2 spot from his usual No. 3, and pitcher Jacob deGrom hitting eighth instead of ninth.
As it turned out, deGrom came up in a key spot with two men aboard in the second inning, tried to sacrifice them over, but popped up a bunt that first baseman Ryan Zimmerman made a headfirst dive to grab.
“That makes a big difference in the game,” said deGrom (0-1), who allowed Zimmerman’s two-run homer in the first.
Another important moment involved Granderson later in that inning. With the bases loaded and the count full, he struck out looking at an 86 mph slider from Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) that Granderson thought was a ball. When the call came from umpire Mike Everitt, Granderson leaned in for a chat.
“I thought it was up,” Granderson said. “He said otherwise.” Through two games, the Mets have scored one earned run.
As for the lineup choices, Collins and Alderson knew that topic would arise.
“Well, first of all, you want to know who wrote that lineup? Who came up with it first? And he came up with it on about February 18 — (bench coach) Bob Geren,” Collins said before the game. “So I mean, sources around here, a lot of them don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Asked whether he’s been told who should play and who should sit, Collins replied: “Absolutely not.”
“The one thing the manager has in his power is this,” Collins said, referring to a lineup card. “He’s got one hammer, and that’s who plays. And I am certainly very, very lucky to have that hammer.”
Alderson, for his part, said: “Look, I didn’t have any conversation with Terry about the lineup. I didn’t talk to Bob Geren about the lineup. I was probably as surprised as many about the lineup. But that’s his prerogative.”
(HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Sports Writer)