NEW YORK If Willie Randolph was worried about losing his job, he never showed it.
He walked confidently into a packed news conference Monday, still the New York Mets' manager after a much-anticipated meeting with team ownership that lasted about two hours.
"Willie's job was never in danger going into this meeting," general manager Omar Minaya said.
The embattled skipper sat down with owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, the club's chief operating officer, as well as Minaya to discuss two things in particular: the team's sluggish play, and Randolph's comments last week about his portrayal on Mets broadcasts in which he raised the issue of race.
Randolph subsequently apologized for those statements and tried reaching out to ownership with a telephone call. The Wilpons said they'd rather talk face-to-face, Minaya said, so the foursome scheduled a meeting for Memorial Day afternoon.
"Willie has my support. He has the support of our ownership," Minaya said. "There is no limbo period. Willie is the manager."
So, was he told he'll definitely manage the Mets for the rest of the season?
"No, they didn't say that," Randolph answered.
In other words, he probably needs to start winning.
Randolph's contract runs through the 2009 season, but his $138 million team is a disappointing 23-26 after losing 7-3 Monday night to NL East-leading Florida in the opener of a seven-game homestand.
Despite a talented roster, the Mets are five games below .500 since June 1 last year. And, of course, they missed the 2007 playoffs following one of the worst late-season collapses in baseball history.
The poor play has led to fans calling for Randolph to be fired, and there was speculation he might be dismissed Monday following a 1-6 trip to Atlanta and Colorado. The Mets have lost 10 of 14 overall.
POSADA CATCHES 5 INNINGS: New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada caught five innings and went 0-for-5 with a walk in his first extended spring training game on Monday at Clearwater, Fla. The five-time All-Star has been sidelined since April 27 due to a sore throwing shoulder. Posada, batting .302 with one homer and 11 RBIs in 63 at-bats, hopes to rejoin the Yankees around June 3.
EXAM FOR BLALOCK: Texas Rangers infielder Hank Blalock, who has been taking medication for carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist, will return to Texas for an examination Tuesday. He will miss the three-game series against the Rays and won't resume swinging a bat for at least a couple of days.
BREWERS MAY SIGN TAVAREZ: Eager to add depth to an overtaxed bullpen, the Milwaukee Brewers are close to signing veteran right-hander Julian Tavarez. General manager Doug Melvin said the 35-year-old Tavarez, cut loose by Boston two weeks ago after going 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in nine relief appearances, worked out for Brewers staff in Washington on Sunday.