NEW YORK (AP) — Once the New York Mets talked to Mickey Callaway, there was no need for a second round of interviews.
They had found their man.
Callaway was introduced Monday as the 21st manager in franchise history. General manager Sandy Alderson said he started with a list of more than 35 names for the job, but the process accelerated once he spent some time with Callaway.
“It was important for us to have someone, in our minds, who was personally excellent,” Alderson said. “We had planned on having a second round of interviews but ended our first round and decided there was only one man for the job. So rather than going to a second round we spent the rest of our time convincing Mickey to come to New York.”
The 42-year-old Callaway spent the last five seasons as the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. He agreed to a three-year deal with New York on Sunday that includes an option for a fourth season.
“I’m so excited to get to know the players,” Callaway said. “Care more about the players than anyone ever has before. We’re going to know that they’re human beings and individuals. This is going to be a group that feels that every day we come to the clubhouse. That’s going to be our main concern. To show them that we know this game is difficult and we care about you as a player, a human being and about your personal life.”
Callaway replaces Terry Collins, who stepped down at the end of the season and accepted a position as a special assistant to Alderson. Collins, 68, spent seven seasons managing the Mets. He was the oldest manager in the major leagues.
Following consecutive playoff appearances under Collins, including a trip to the 2015 World Series, the injury-riddled Mets tumbled to 70-92 in 2017 during their worst season this decade.
“You’re not the longest-tenured manager in Mets history without doing a lot of things (well),” Alderson said. “Some of the things we think are important today relate to this team and to our situation, but don’t for a minute think all of this is a projection of anything that went on before. It’s just a recalibration.”
Under Callaway’s stewardship, Cleveland led the American League in strikeouts in each of the last four seasons. The Indians won the AL Central each of the last two years, losing in the World Series in 2016 and bowing out in the AL Division Series this month.
Callaway spoke with New York third baseman David Wright on Sunday, and planned on talking to players following the press conference in an attempt to outline his player-personnel management philosophy.
He brings a fresh perspective to an organization that has been racked by injuries in recent years. He played parts of five seasons in the majors with Texas, Tampa Bay and the Angels.
Wright missed the entire year due to an impingement in his right shoulder and recently had back surgery. Pitchers Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia also were sidelined for large chunks of the season.
Callaway said he was going to do “some research” into how Mets pitchers train before making any adjustments to their routines. The Mets parted ways with longtime trainer Ray Ramirez after the season.
There are “a ton of things that can be implemented to keep pitchers healthy,” Callaway said. “Whatever those might be, whatever those might need to be for those individuals, we’ll implement those things.”
It’s the first managerial job for Callaway at any level. It remains to be seen how he fills out his staff. Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, who interviewed for the manager job, could return.
“Right now I think it’s a possibility he’ll be back on staff,” Alderson said. “I think it’s very possible someone else will seek out Kevin.”
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