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Mets End Sad Story With Trade Of Alomar…Reyes Will Have a New Mentor Now

Mets End Sad Story With Trade Of Alomar


July 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

The Mets finally succeeded yesterday in shipping the underachieving second baseman Roberto Alomar out of New York, receiving three minor leaguers from the Chicago White Sox in return. Though Alomar hardly performed as expected during his season and a half with the Mets, many around the team expect that he will quickly become himself again.

Alomar, 35, is joining a pennant race in the American League, in which he was an All-Star for 11 seasons before joining the Mets, and one of his teammates in Chicago will be his older brother, Sandy Alomar Jr.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he had a good second half,'' said Jim Duquette, the Mets' interim general manager.

Exactly why Alomar was not himself in 222 games with the Mets will seemingly remain a mystery. Alomar said in a conference call with reporters yesterday that he liked New York, and he made sure to add that he had great teammates.

He did not sound as if he could cope with the malaise that came from losing, and the Mets lost 20 more games than they won while he was here.

"The team, maybe, I didn't really feel comfortable with the situation,'' said Alomar, who batted .265 with the Mets, far below his career average of .302. "Sometimes, teams don't work for you. I think the New York Mets weren't the right team for me.''

With the last-place Mets not accomplishing much with him anyway, Alomar was traded to the White Sox for a left-handed reliever, Royce Ring; a right-handed reliever, Edwin Almonte; and a second baseman, Andrew Salvo.

Ring, 22, a former No. 1 draft pick who had 19 saves in 36 games with Chicago's Class AA farm team in Birmingham, Ala., is considered a bona fide prospect.

"He's got a real aggressive, bulldog-type approach,'' Duquette said.

The Mets, who passed the midpoint of the season Monday, made the deal with the White Sox by agreeing to pay the rest of Alomar's 2003 salary, about $3.75 million. The Mets need prospects, and they have other second basemen who can fill in.

Rey Sanchez, 35, the veteran who was told Monday upon his return from the disabled list that José Reyes would be the everyday shortstop, was in the Mets' starting lineup last night against Montreal, playing second base and batting second.

"I'm here to help and to play and to follow instructions,'' Sanchez said. "I want to play, and this definitely gives me an opportunity to help Reyes a little more.''

Mets Manager Art Howe said Joe McEwing and Jay Bell would also be available at second. Sanchez, who had been on the disabled list with a sprained thumb, is hitting .218; McEwing is hitting .216; Bell, .211.

"If somebody gets hot, we might stay with him, whoever that is,'' Howe said.

There was not much doubt even at the start of the regular season that Alomar would be the Mets' second baseman, but the team began to founder, and Alomar became a target of the fans, who thought he was not playing hard enough.

"I've seen a lot of players have a tough time in New York,'' Jerry Manuel, the manager of the White Sox, said in Chicago last night before his team beat Minnesota. "New York is a tough place to play.''

Sandy Alomar Jr., 37, said he did not think that would be a problem for Roberto when he joins the White Sox. The White Sox are two and a half games out of first place in the American League Central - 13 games closer to first place than the Mets in the National League East.

"Any player who comes to a winning team, he adjusts,'' Sandy Alomar Jr. said yesterday.

After the Mets began to shop Alomar around earlier this season, Duquette said there were at least a half-dozen teams that immediately showed interest. By last Friday, before the Mets' embarrassing four-game sweep by the Yankees, trade discussions became serious.

Although Alomar had begun to be booed regularly at Shea Stadium, White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams, a former teammate of Alomar's, was still interested.

Asked about any lack of effort by Alomar, Williams said: "It's not a concern. I know there is heart and desire. He's going to play 100 percent.''

The Mets were among those who could never figure out why he could never do the wondrous things in New York that he did in San Diego, Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland.

"I don't think any of us can make the call on why the guy didn't perform up to his expectations,'' said outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, who has also been a disappointment with the Mets. "There are a lot of variables. But I really do think we all have to play well to make each other look good.''

Although it would seem that the Mets are about to undergo renovation, Duquette said that was not necessarily the case. They will regroup, he said, and decide if any other moves make sense.

Mets pitcher Tom Glavine agreed. "We know that's the reality we're in now," he said.

Alomar's corner stall in the Mets clubhouse was untouched yesterday, as if he would appear at any minute to suit up. Alomar said he would go to Shea later for his personal effects, but he sounded as if his getaway would be quick.

"Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself in New York, and maybe I did that,'' Alomar said. "I wanted to do too much.''

Reyes Will Have a New Mentor Now


July 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

Rey Sanchez and Roberto Alomar played baseball together as 15-year-olds in Puerto Rico, played against each other in the minor leagues, played on the same team twice in Puerto Rico and finally found themselves playing together for the Mets. Sanchez was walking to the Mets' clubhouse at Shea Stadium yesterday when he learned that Alomar had been traded to the Chicago White Sox.

"It's sad because he's a friend, but I think he's a professional and knows he has to play baseball on whatever team," Sanchez said in Spanish. "It's something you have no control over."

Now Sanchez will take his friend's spot at second base, and he will also take Alomar's role as a mentor to the 20-year-old rookie shortstop José Reyes.

"We've got to help them to do their job," Sanchez, who is 35, said of helping younger players like Reyes. "I understand that my time is limited, so let's help them."

Sanchez said he and Alomar had discussed Reyes and his baseball career. Reyes, the Mets' top prospect, was called up from Class AAA Norfolk on June 10 to fill in at shortstop after Sanchez went on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb. But he was named as the everyday shortstop on Monday and Sanchez was moved to utility infielder before taking over at second.

Alomar, who is also 35, looked out for Reyes and gave him advice during practice, Reyes said. Often, Alomar talked to him about his hitting, or told him to be more focused and not to rush while on the field.

"We always talked," Reyes said in Spanish yesterday. "He's been helping me."

Alomar was Reyes's favorite player when Reyes was a 15-year-old in the Dominican Republic.

"He's one of the best second basemen," Reyes said. "I never thought I'd be on the same team with him."

Reyes introduced himself to Alomar in spring training last year and became closer with him when they met again this year in spring training, Reyes said. Alomar almost immediately became a mentor when Reyes joined the Mets.

Mets Manager Art Howe said veterans like Sanchez and Joe McEwing could help Reyes now. Howe also said that while Reyes may miss Alomar, it might be time for him to go out on his own.

As he prepared for batting practice yesterday, Reyes said he was ready to do just that. "Life goes on," he said. "You've got to keep going."

But not without applying some of what he has learned from Alomar. Reyes said he admired the way Alomar never gave up and put his best effort forward, despite struggling in New York.

"His numbers were not corresponding with his previous numbers and you wondered, 'What's going on?' " Sanchez said. "He always gave 100 percent. He did his job, but not to the level we were used to seeing."

Now Alomar will join his brother Sandy with the White Sox.

"He talked a lot about his dad in Colorado," Sanchez said, referring to Sandy Alomar Sr., who is the third-base coach for the Rockies. "Now he's with his brother. Hopefully things will get better."

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