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Queens Bomber

Is Willie Randolph the miracle the Mets have been waiting for?

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Longtime Yankee player and coach Willie Randolph has swapped outer boroughs to become the Mets’ new manager. After three days of phone tag, Jada Yuan caught up with the busy Brooklyn native.

You’re a hard man to get ahold of.
I can’t get off the phone. Everyone’s coming out of the woodwork. Friends, family, and a lot of people looking for jobs. They mostly drop hints: “Well, if you ever need anybody . . . ”

You should get an assistant.
I don’t want to have an assistant. And you know, I’ve been in this town all my life; these are people who know my cell phone. [Phone rings in the background.] Listen. There it goes again. I’m gonna get cauliflower ear.

What’s the first thing you want to change about the Mets?
Obviously, pitching is a big concern.

Will Mike Piazza play first base again next year?
Mike Piazza is the best-hitting catcher in the game. They put him on first base last year and he struggled. I think we need a solid first baseman.

Jose Reyes is going to be shortstop. Does that mean career shortstop Kaz Matsui’s now going to play second? BI think middle infielders all have certain skills: quick feet, strong arms, good hands. I see that in Kaz. Now it’s just a matter of teaching him the basics, like how to pivot on the base and turn a double play.

Carlos Beltran, Richie Sexson, and Carl Pavano are all free agents this winter. Have you given your GM, Omar Minaya, a wish list?
As a matter of fact, I haven’t talked to Omar much lately because he’s trying to lay the groundwork for some of these deals you’re asking about.

Mike and the Mad Dog bad-mouthed you on their WFAN show. Is the feud going to last?
Listen, I’ve been in this town a long time, young lady. I grew up in a tough neighborhood. This is not an issue.

Do you have a favorite Steinbrenner story?
Nothing I can tell you. George and I have always gotten along. I’m not saying rumors you’ve heard aren’t true. But I was never involved in them.

After 24 years with the Yankees, does it feel weird to put on a blue-and-orange hat?
Not really, because my identity is not tied to a team. You know, I’m Willie Randolph. I know who I am.


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