Collins takes heat for Valdespin T-shirt flap

Collins takes heat for Valdespin T-shirt flap

Collins takes heat for Valdespin T-shirt flap
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Mets delivered a lesson in comportment following Wednesday's game. After rookie Jordany Valdespin showed up to AT&T Park in a plain white T-shirt, violating the club's self-imposed dress code, his teammates cut tassels into the sleeves and wrote messages on the shirt, scrawling "El Hombre" -- "the man," in Spanish -- in large block letters on the back.

Visibly angry at the time of the incident, Valdespin had calmed down by the time he left the ballpark. A day later, showing up in a pink, collared shirt, he said he understood the lesson.

"That's funny," said Valdespin, who wore the altered shirt around the clubhouse pregame Thursday and planned to keep it. "At the time you get mad, but what can I do? I'm not going to fight with anybody in here. We're a family in here. Sometimes they do it to be happy, have fun."

Valdespin came to the Mets this season with a history of immaturity on and off the field, concerning team officials. But he has mostly kept to himself during his rookie season, and manager Terry Collins said that Valdespin has done nothing to unsettle the clubhouse culture. Collins went as far as to absorb blame for the T-shirt incident, saying he never explained the dress code to Valdespin.

"He thought it was OK to wear a white T-shirt to the ballpark," Collins said. "This is the big leagues. So the guys said, 'No, we dress nicer than that.' They made the message."

Collins joked that if Valdespin was upset about the shirt, the Mets would be happy to dip into a "slush fund" to replace it. More important, Collins said, was that the Mets demonstrated the ability and willingness to police themselves in the clubhouse -- not necessarily a given on a young team.

But had roles been reversed, Valdespin said, he would have taken a different tact.

"I would never do that," Valdespin said. "You know why? Because you've got to respect everybody. The example here is this guy, David Wright. He's the captain of the team. He respects everybody."