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Willie focusing on job at hand

Willie focusing on job at hand

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NEW YORK -- If Willie Randolph's days in Flushing are indeed numbered, he's not about to start counting. Despite recent media reports that general manager Omar Minaya is seriously considering replacing Randolph as Mets manager -- the most recent of which was an SI.com report stating that Randolph's job status was "shaky, at best" -- Randolph walked into Shea Stadium on Friday prepared for business as usual.

"I can't control what's said or written," Randolph said. "I just come to work ready to go. The nights are a little tougher to sleep, and you get up every morning ready to come out and try to find a way to do something to help the team win. It's been really bizarre."

He encountered this same situation after last season, and again two weeks ago when the Mets came home from Colorado. But after the Mets then lost four straight games in San Diego and two out of three at home to the Diamondbacks, rumors began flying anew.

Minaya now, as he did then, dismissed them with a line: "Willie has my support."

"I believe that he's going to get us to play better," Minaya said. "I have full confidence that he's doing everything he can."

That doesn't mean he'll be here all year -- Minaya wouldn't confirm that. But he did say that the current situation is "resolved," and that neither Randolph nor members of the coaching staff -- hitting coach Howard Johnson and pitching coach Rick Peterson were mentioned in the SI.com report -- had fallen into imminent trouble.

"I don't know what players think or feel, but I don't sense, coming from them to me, that that's bothering them in any way," Randolph said. "We need to just think about how we can win a game. That's what we should be thinking about only and totally."

So the most popular clubhouse sentiment found roots in the manager's office.

"We need to play better," Carlos Beltran said, echoing Randolph's phrasing.

Carlos Delgado's thoughts, exactly.

"I think we need to play better," Delgado said.

And that's been the more vexing problem for Randolph and his Mets. They are now 82-80 over their last 162 games, dating back to last June. They've won only three games this month, and have won three in a row only once since April. Now, having fallen 7 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East, the Mets have entered into a precarious position.

Randolph will be charged with fixing that, and if he can, then the rumors will likely disappear. If they can't, he'll have to answer to them again and again. But for now, regardless, there is no change at Shea Stadium. There's just the status quo.

So Randolph, still dressed in blue and orange, patted his chest with both hands.

"You can see me," he said. "You can feel me. I'm still here."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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