Originally created 11/05/99

Valentine mum on acquiring Griffey, Rodriguez



NEW YORK -- Mets manager Bobby Valentine isn't ready to speculate about having Ken Griffey Jr. or Alex Rodriguez on his team next season.

Even in a room filled with photos and memorabilia of Griffey.

"Right now a lot of that is fantasy," Valentine said Thursday at the All-Star Cafe, a restaurant promoted by Griffey, who requested a trade from Seattle earlier this week.

"I'm not making the phone calls. I'm not part and parcel to all of the action. But it sure is fascinating to me to see so many fabulous players being talked about in early November. In my tenure in the game it is unparalleled."

Valentine spoke before a dinner honoring umpire John McSherry, who died three years ago of a heart attack on the field during opening day in Cincinnati. Valentine isn't yet ready to return to the field following his most successful season as a manager.

"There are still a lot of things that are unsettled," said Valentine, who managed 1,704 games before making the playoffs for the first time this year. "I don't like to go into things blind. I like to have things settled down. The baseball gods devise this time to reshuffle the deck and have it settle a bit before you do have to get back on the field."

The reshuffling could start with Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonilla, who were reportedly playing cards in the Mets clubhouse during the final innings of their Game 6 loss at Atlanta.

Valentine had run-ins during the year with both players, who are under contract for next season. If they do return, Valentine said they probably would have to apologize to their teammates.

"I haven't talked to them about this yet," Valentine said. "I'm still trying to find a person who saw them playing. I haven't found that person yet. It's not an inquisition. When someone does says, 'Hey, by the way I didn't like it,' then I think eventually in some kind of group form it should be addressed."

The Mets, who almost blew a playoff spot with a seven-game losing streak in late September, recovered to win a one-game wild-card tiebreaker against Cincinnati.

New York went on to beat Arizona in the first round before losing 4-2 to Atlanta in the NL Championship Series.

The Mets first playoff berth in 11 years wasn't enough to earn Valentine a contract extension past next season. Both he and general manager Steve Phillips have contracts through 2000. Valentine said his lame-duck contract status doesn't bother him.

"I've had the longest hangover this year of any season," Valentine said. "It's been about a week since my first thought wasn't about a game. I think it's mainly because all of the excitement of the end."