Another tough loss for the New York Mets led to an ugly scene in the clubhouse Sunday, as Manager Mickey Callaway reportedly snarled at a beat reporter and asked for the removal of the journalist, who was threatened by New York pitcher Jason Vargas.
Mets players Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Gomez reportedly had to intervene when Vargas moved in the direction of Newsday’s Tim Healey, after suggesting to the reporter that he might “knock you the f--- out.”
Moments before, per reports, Callaway had used profanity while angrily addressing Healey. The episode unfolded in the visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the Mets blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning and lost to the Cubs, 5-3.
“The Mets sincerely regret the incident that took place with one of our beat writers following today’s game in the clubhouse,” the team said in a statement. “We do not condone this type of behavior from any employee. The organization has reached out and apologized to this reporter and will have further discussions internally with all involved parties.”
General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters Monday that the Mets opted to fine Callaway and Vargas for their roles in the altercation. Van Wagenen said he does not expect MLB to issue additional discipline for Callaway or Vargas.
“We have taken action and we, as an organization, have decided to fine both Mickey and Jason for their roles in the incident," he said. “And at this point we’re ready to move on and continue our focus on trying to win games.”
Both Callaway and Vargas also spoke with reporters before Monday night’s game in Philadelphia, but Vargas took no questions, according to USA Today.
“I don’t think one side of the story needs to be said over another,” Callaway said of his role in the incident. “It’s unfortunate that it’s a distraction and we’re going to move on.”
Healey told Newsday that, in a phone call conversation Sunday, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon “stressed the fact that I should feel comfortable being able to do my job at the ballpark and that moving forward, there’s no reason for me to feel uncomfortable.”
“I appreciated that sentiment from him, absolutely,” Healey continued.
In the wake of the loss, Callaway fielded questions about why he elected not to bring in closer Edwin Diaz for a potential five-out save. He instead opted to stick with reliever Seth Lugo, who was in his second inning of work and had already allowed three base runners, to face the Cubs’ Javier Baez.
Baez hit a three-run home run off Lugo, who was then replaced by another reliever, Robert Gsellman. The defeat, which wasted a solid effort by Mets starter Jacob deGrom, dropped New York to 37-41, four games back in the National League wild-card race and nine games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves.
Callaway told reporters (via the New York Post) that his approach doesn’t call for Diaz, who has made one appearance since June 15, to try to get five outs. When asked whether that plan could be adapted to circumstances of a given game, he replied, “Just because you think so?”
“Absolutely not,” continued Callaway, who went 77-85 with the Mets last season, his first as a manager. “We have a very good plan, we know what we are doing and we’re going to stick to it.”
Several minutes later, after Callaway had gone into his office, he reemerged and walked past Healey, who told Callaway (via the New York Daily News), “see you tomorrow, Mickey."
And according to Yahoo Sports, Callaway turned and yelled at the reporter, “Don’t be a smarta--, motherf-----.”
The 44-year-old manager, a former MLB pitcher, engaged again with Healey shortly thereafter and was reported to have used more profanity while asking a Mets public relations official to remove the reporter.
Healey, per reports, then noticed Vargas staring him down and told the pitcher that it seemed as if he might have something to say. Vargas threatened to knock Healey out and moved toward the reporter, drawing the intervention of Syndergaard and Gomez, as well as that of a Mets official (per the Daily News).
“I was shocked, and at the same time trying to tell Vargas or Callaway or [Mets media relations official Ethan Wilson], ‘Hey I didn’t mean anything by it,’ which might have been interpreted as aggression on my part,” Healey said. “I was in no way trying to be aggressive or antagonistic or anything. At that point in the day, I want to talk to Diaz and then leave, you know? What’s the point in me trying to pick a fight?”
This is a developing story that has been updated.