Notes: Randolph still learning ropes

Notes: Randolph still growing as skipper

PITTSBURGH -- With the first half of his rookie managerial season come and gone, Willie Randolph had a chance to take inventory on what he has learned -- just do not ask him to critique himself.

"Learning is so much a part of being a first-year manager," Randolph said. "I try not to second-guess myself. I do what I feel is right for the team."

Randolph said he knew what he was getting into when he accepted a job as a Major League manager -- particularly in New York -- in terms of the media and fans questioning every move.

But that does not mean Randolph is not himself evaluating the decisions and moves and choices he makes on a game-by-game basis.

"I think you have to keep a certain composure and steadiness when you're leading a ballclub," Randolph said. "The players need to see a certain consistency in you."

Randolph, who spent 11 years as a coach with the New York Yankees, said the toughest in-game adjustment he has had to make is learning to think two or three innings -- or farther -- ahead at all times.

"When you're a coach, you think more in the moment," Randolph said. "What you analyze is the moment as a third-base coach or infield coach. As a manager, you can think about that real quick; you have to let that go and really project later on in the game -- about a pinch-hitter, the bullpen, something you need to be thinking about. You have to get in habit of doing that."

Randolph said he takes notes at times during and after games when he encounters a situation he has not seen before; this allows him to formulate the best way to handle that set of circumstances, should he come across it again in the future.

"I'm learning, and I'm making adjustments," Randolph said. "I won't be the same manager at the end of the year or maybe next year, if I'm here. I come from a winning mentality. I don't think about how I've done or get into grading myself."

Rotation set: On Sunday, Randolph announced his rotation for the games immediately following the All-Star break: Kris Benson will start on Thursday in the opener of the Mets' four-game series against the Atlanta Braves, Tom Glavine goes on Friday, Victor Zambrano throws on Saturday and Pedro Martinez will pitch on Sunday.

Essentially, the only modifications to the current rotation are that Benson's turn was moved ahead of Glavine's and Ishii was skipped in favor of Martinez. Randolph indicated it is possible Ishii will miss an entire turn because the Mets have an off day on Monday, July 18, but Randolph said nothing has been decided beyond Sunday.

Martinez will be given a full six days off. Randolph said that was partially because the veteran performs better long-term when given adequate rest. Martinez was selected for the All-Star team, but will skip the game since he would not be available to pitch on Tuesday night, having started in the final game of the first half of the season.

"Everybody's got a few bumps and bruises and stuff, so it's no big deal," Randolph said of Martinez's extended break. "Sometimes, you give a guy an extra day. [Pedro's] not having any [physical] problems or anything like that."

Early Graves: Randolph insisted his faith in reliever Danny Graves remains intact, despite an outing on Saturday night in which the right-hander failed to retire a better during the Pirates' seven-run seventh inning.

Graves entered the game with New York desperate to stay in the game and down only a manageable three runs. It was one of the few times since the Mets signed him on June 7 that Randolph used Graves in a situation with the game still in doubt. Graves, a former All-Star closer, was released seven days prior by the Cincinnati Reds.

"He's part of my staff," Randolph said. "I put guys in when I feel like they can help us win a ballgame, and that's the bottom line."

"Every time I pitch, regardless of the score, my mentality is the same," Graves said. "I go at it and pitch very aggressively, no matter if we're losing by one or winning or whatever. The point is to have the same mentality, no matter what."

Talking it over: Randolph said that, although he and general manger Omar Minaya had no formal state-of-the-team discussion planned for the Al-Star break, he and Minaya would likely speak by phone just to go over a few things. But don't expect major roster moves.

"There's not a whole lot out there you can do [in terms of a trade]," Randolph said. "Maybe there will be some changes [from within]. We'll just have to wait and see."

On deck: Three days of rest and relaxation await all the Mets except Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, who will start in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Detroit. The season's second half gets underway when the Atlanta Braves come to Shea Stadium for a four-game set beginning Thursday.

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