Collins urges pitchers to keep it simple at Coors

'Just pitch better than their guy and we'll be in good shape,' Mets skipper says

Collins urges pitchers to keep it simple at Coors

DENVER -- Terry Collins makes managing at altitude look easy after eight years in the National League with annual trips to Coors Field, five-plus years at Triple-A Albuquerque and five-plus years playing in Albuquerque. The Mets came into Colorado with an 11-game winning streak against the Rockies, including four straight on the road.

"It's not a great place to manage," Collins said of the hitter-friendly park. "[Pitching coach] Dan Warthen, he doesn't have much fun here. Kevin Long [hitting coach] was the first guy in the park here."

Collins keeps it simple when advising his pitchers on how to succeed at Coors, where the dry atmosphere encourages rapid flight and makes throwing good breaking balls a challenge.

"Pitch better than their guy," Collins said. "I don't get into what's going to happen. Just pitch better than their guy. You start telling them, 'Don't worry about your ERA, don't worry about runs scored,' that's [baloney]. Just pitch better than their guy and we'll be in good shape. I spent too many years at this altitude. I know exactly what can happen."

With infielder Wilmer Flores going on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring Thursday, the Mets took the opportunity to add an extra arm to their roster, traveling to Colorado with 13 pitchers. They called up left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who pitched all three innings of relief Thursday, allowing the Mets to come to Colorado with a well-rested bullpen.

"That was what we were hoping," Collins said, noting the challenge of managing a bullpen at Coors. "You can't just run relievers in and out of here, or you're going to look up and you're going to run out of pitching."

Ultimately, he summed up his approach to calling on the bullpen with a classic Collins one-liner: "You hope they'll answer the phone."

Collins is especially mindful of the bad habits hitters can get into as they leave a park that tempts them to swing for the fences.

"No question that is an issue," Collins said. "That is something that's going to be addressed here in a few minutes [at a team meeting]. It's not about trying to hit home runs; it's about squaring the ball up. Homers happen in this place. The better you make contact, the better chance it'll happen. But the minute you try to start lifting the ball in the air here, when you leave here, you can get yourself caught up in some bad habits."

Which brings him to the defense.

"All the years I've spent, not only in this park, but in Colorado Springs, and Albuquerque, and all those other places where the ball flies, it's the bloop singles that kill you as much as the home runs," Collins said. "The outfielders play deep because they're worrying about the balls going over their head, and the next thing you know balls are dropping all over the place. That is the area where I think these parks can do damage."

Still, his philosophy on defensive reverts to the old-school approach to mile-high baseball.

"I'd be in the third row [beyond the fence] if I could put anybody there," Collins quipped. "Boy, in this park, anything goes. You put the barrel on the baseball, anything can happen."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.