Sounds like a shotgun wedding was held at Citi Field this week.
New Mets bench coach Jim Riggleman is just getting to know Mickey Callaway, he told reporters on a conference call Tuesday, having had his longest talk with the Mets skipper during his job interview.
The long-time baseball man who has managed for five teams dating back to his first job with the Padres in 1992 had only brief casual conversations with Callaway before his agent got a call from Omar Mianya about the bench coach opening, setting up the interview with Callaway and GM Brodie Vanwagenen. About two week after that meeting, says Riggleman, he was offered the job.
“I’ve met Mickey on a couple occasions. He’s a good, solid guy,” said Riggleman of the chats that originated from mutual friend Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland. “It’s going to be a little bit like when I worked for Jim Tracy at the Dodgers and Bryan Price with the Reds. We didn’t know each other well but became very close friends, personally and professionally.
“(My relationship with Callaway) will evolve into a tight relationship as it will with others in the coaching staff,” said Riggleman, who said he was honored and thrilled to get this opportunity.
Considering Riggleman isn’t a longtime confidant of Callaway’s, the perception will be that he’s a manager-in-waiting, just add losses. It’s a perception Riggleman knows will be hovering over this team if wins don’t come fast and furious.
“I certainly understand that,” said Riggleman. “I don’t let myself go there. I fully anticipate the ballclub will pick up where it left off. They got things going in the right direction at the end of last year.
“We’ll get that out of the way real quick by how we get out of the blocks.”
While not having a relationship with Callaway, Riggleman doesn’t see working alongside a relatively new face as a problem.
“It will be learning experience for me and Mickey,” said Riggleman. “Lots of information going. We’ll grow as a staff.”
One area where Riggleman will be essential to Callaway will be giving advice on the National League, where never-before seen situations come at young managers quickly.
“I can be very helpful (with my NL experience). It’s amazing how as the game is moving fast, at times things creep up that you’ve never seen happen.
“Being in the National League a few more of those situations have arisen that I’ve experienced,” said Riggleman. “It’s great to have someone next to you to validate what you’re going to do.
Riggleman also addressed his new manager’s most embarrassing situation, one he had a dugout seat for last season while working for the Reds. It was May 9 in Cincinnati and Callaway’s Mets batted out of order. The rookie manager was hammered for his gaffe, and was even trolled by the Reds’ twitter account who tweeted out the Mets lineup card as aired on SNY and asked that it be sent to the third base dugout.
“To be perfectly honest with you, as long as I’ve been in the game and as many great managers I’ve been around, all those guys and myself included, everybody has had that happen at some time or another,” said Riggleman, who had caught the miscue, held it in his back pocket and used it against Callaway. “It’s one that got by. But believe me it’s something that’s happened to everyone. I feel terrible that it happened to Mickey that particular day.”
While Riggleman is an old-school baseball guy, he says he wants to begin talking with the Mets’ analytics team to see what should be incorporated and what shouldn’t.
“We’ll be accumulating that information as much or as little as Mickey wants,” said Riggleman. “We’ll quickly decide how much we want to use it.”
But the bottom line is will this be a fruitful marriage between Riggleman and Callaway, or end in divorce?