Reunion at Citi for Randolph, Manuel

Reunion at Citi for Randolph, Manuel

NEW YORK -- Despite all the rumors of tension and building anticipation of what the moment would actually be like, the first words exchanged by former Mets manager Willie Randolph and his successor, Jerry Manuel, were inconsequential.

Foolish, even.

As the two traded witty barbs, Manuel leaning over the dugout with Sandy Alomar Sr. and Randolph sitting on top of the Brewers' bench, the scene played out like two old friends happy to see each other.

There were updates on Randolph being a new grandfather, and Manuel light-heartedly inquiring how Randolph had found his way around the quirks of brand-new Citi Field.

"All the memories are still here," Randolph said. "This is obviously a new era for these guys. And from what I see from the ballpark, it looks nice.

"I wish I was still here, now it's kind of bittersweet [to come to Citi Field]. I kind of watched the place being built the last couple years."

Randolph was dismissed by general manager Omar Minaya last season in the wee hours of June 17. Randolph had managed the Mets since 2005, and following his dismissal, there were reports of tension between him and Manuel, who was promoted from bench coach to interim manager following the dismissal.

Friday night not only marked Randolph's first return to the Mets -- as Milwaukee's bench coach -- it was also an opportunity for Randolph and Manuel to dismiss any talk of ill feelings.

"There's no doubt I would have loved to still be at the helm here," Randolph said. "But it didn't work out that way. I understand the way things work here, and I really feel good about where I'm at right now."

So does Manuel, who said he had "no doubt" Randolph would have another opportunity to manage somewhere down the road.

But perhaps that road won't be as unique as the travails Randolph and Manuel shared.

"We always went to the park [together]," Manuel said. "And I think the times that we got lost, Sandy [Alomar Sr.] was giving directions, [and it] was the time that we won the games. So we were always hoping we would get lost. We would leave early enough to get lost so we could arrive at the ballpark on time.

"Those were the fun times. Obviously the last couple of weeks [leading up to Randolph's firing] were difficult for everybody and those are tough times. And we as a staff were just trying to keep the spirits up, but over four years, we had a lot of laughs about a lot of different things."

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.