We saw the the Jerry Manuel-John Maine argument last week and that was fun, but a dustup on Sunday between closer Francisco Rodriguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann had escaped our notice.
The way I read it on Sunday night — and this came straight from K-Rod in the game stories that were written — was that guys in the bullpen were just roughhousing and having fun (“We were just fooling around . . .we were just kidding with each
other” he said). I and most everyone else figured no biggie and didn’t mention it. That’s not really what happened, however:
But two people in the Mets organization confirmed that the confrontation
between Rodriguez and Niemann was indeed a heated one and might have
escalated if other pitchers had not intervened.
The source of the dispute, the New York Times reports, is K-Rod’s overuse. It seems he doesn’t like the fact that Jerry Manuel has him warm up multiple times a game, getting five-out saves, and the like.
My first impulse is to tell Rodriguez to cry me a river. He’s paid a metric butt-ton of money, and if any reliever in baseball should be expected to go the extra mile, it’s him.
My second impulse, however, is to think that Jerry Manuel has probably never had that conversation with him, the constant warmups are thus rather disorienting to K-Rod and he’s not completely sure what’s being asked of him. One way to solve this: have Manuel tell K-Rod that he’s expected to be a Gossage-style relief ace. I bet if it was couched in those terms he’d dig it.
Of course, all that assumes that that’s what Manuel is doing here rather than simply panicking and calling for his closer to warm up eleventeen times a game. Which may not be the safest assumption on the planet.
Either way, the Mets should probably remember that everyone loves a winning team that fights among themselves (e.g. the 1970s A’s and Yankees). No one likes a last place team that does it.