Having displayed an intense personality as manager of the Houston Astros (1994-96) and the Angels (1997-99), Collins was hired by the Mets to jump-start players coming off consecutive losing seasons under laid-back Jerry Manuel.
“I’m the same person,” Collins said Monday. “I told them, `I care. I care about what we do here. I care about how we prepare, and if things don’t go well, if things are not going the way I want them to be done, I’m going to address it.’ And yeah, will I get mad? You better believe I’m going to get mad. I (care) about how this team plays. … That’s going to happen. I can’t help it.”
Collins was hired by new general manager Sandy Alderson after the losing led the Wilpon family to fire Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya.
“I think he’s a good change,” right-hander Mike Pelfrey said. “He’s fiery. There’s a true sense he’s in charge. … He’s a no-nonsense guy.”
Collins‘ intense manner led to his downfall in two previous managing jobs.
“Obviously, he’s going to go out there and have fun, but he also expects you to give everything you have and go out there and perform,” Pelfrey said. “He’s going to find a way to get that out of you. Even when I went up there in January to New York, he was just talking about bunt plays and relays and stuff like that, and he started getting me excited.”
New York didn’t make any major additions during the offseason, with Alderson saying he didn’t want to limit payroll in future seasons. Collins is the major change.
Collins told the team Monday about the need to believe and “own up” to the “we can do it” comments players have been making.
“It’s a different intensity, a different volume,” Wright said. “He’s just that excited about baseball and that excited about this season that he gets all fired up, and it’s like a snowball. He starts out kind of at a normal voice, and it picks up a few decimals, and then a few more, and by the end of it he’s screaming and yelling and red in the face. So it makes it fun, and those are the types of guys you want to go out there and run through a wall for.”
Collins‘ style has drawn positive reviews from players thus far. His first full-squad workout kept players moving to stations, with little standing around. During one drill, infielders took ground balls for about 20 consecutive minutes.
“I love the fact it was kind of high-intensity, kind of shortened time,” Wright said. “It kind of feels like you are getting in and out, but you are getting your work in. It was pretty evident from the first moment the intensity was supposed to be up here and he didn’t want to keep us out on the field all day, and as players, you like you get your work in with very little standing around, and that’s what we did today.”
“I think the little parts of the game _ playing hard, playing defense _ I think you’ll see a lot of improvements in those areas,” Pelfrey said. “I know he coached in Japan, and fundamentals are very important over there.”
Collins said he was pleased with how players responded during the first practice.
“I truly believe you get in baseball shape by doing baseball activities, and that’s what we tried to do today,” Collins said. “Today was the most fun I’ve had in 12 years, being out there. I loved it. I owe it to the way they went about their jobs.”
NOTES: Mets 2B Luis Castillo temporarily left practice Monday to check on his brother, who was undergoing surgery in the Dominican Republic. His brother made it through the surgery, but it is unclear whether Castillo will need to return to the Dominican to be with him. … Collins said he was pleased to see Carlos Beltran able to put his full weight on his back leg _ and repaired right knee _ while hitting from the right side Monday. He said Beltran likely will not play in the first week of exhibition games, which start Saturday.