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Randolph booted at midnight

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Mets general manager Omar Minaya pauses during a news conference before Tuesday's game against the Angels.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya pauses during a news conference before Tuesday’s game against the Angels.

Nick Ut, Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Once he decided to fire Willie Randolph, New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya caught a flight to the West Coast, went to the team hotel and waited to deliver the news in person.

"Eye to eye," Minaya said Tuesday. "It was done quick."

Even if it seemed to take forever.

The late-night hit came as chants of "Fire Willie!" grew louder at Shea Stadium and on New York's sports talk radio stations. Yet when Minaya did just that, the news shocked most everyone — fans, media and apparently even Randolph.

"I'm really stunned by it," the ex-manager said around noon Tuesday. "I was surprised by it."

Bench coach Jerry Manuel, a former AL Manager of the Year for the Chicago White Sox, will manage the Mets for the rest of the year.

Randolph became the first manager in the majors to be fired this season, the move announced in an e-mail at 12:14 a.m. PDT Tuesday. He was dismissed with the Mets below .500, still wobbling from last year's colossal collapse and speculation about his job status growing every day.

The tension went on "far too long," Minaya said. "It was not fair to the team, it was not fair to Willie Randolph, it was not fair to the organization."

Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto also were fired.

Minaya said he made the decision Monday and stressed it was his alone. He met with Randolph after that night's 9-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels left the Mets at 34-35.

"I think he was resigned to it," Minaya said. "When all is said and done, I think he was relieved."

CARDS PULLING FOR CARPENTER: A second opinion backed up the St. Louis Cardinals' hope that ace pitcher Chris Carpenter, whose surgically-repaired elbow has bothered him the last few weeks, might still be able to join the rotation this year.

Carpenter, the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2005, was examined in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday by Dr. James Andrews. That exam confirmed the Cardinals' diagnosis that Carpenter, who made only one start last season before undergoing reconstructive surgery in July, was just working through typical rehab pains.

Carpenter said he "absolutely" expected to pitch this year and wasn't far from beginning a rehab stint. The team had been projecting a mid-July return before the right-hander was hindered by what the team termed as chronic pain.

"I don't feel this is anything major," Carpenter said. "My elbow looks good and everybody reacts differently at different times, so it's just a frustrating process.

SLOW PACE DRAWS FINES: Houston Astros manager Cecil Cooper and the Minnesota Twins' Ron Gardenhire were fined undisclosed amounts by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for failing to comply with pace of game regulations last weekend.

With games seeming to run longer each year, teams were asked last month to help enforce speed-up rules already on the books.

A nine-inning game was averaging 2 hours, 51 minutes, 42 seconds this season at the time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That's only 29 seconds longer than last season, but 5 1/2 minutes longer than five years ago. In 1981, an average game took 2:33.

Cooper and Gardenhire were the first two managers sanctioned under the new push.

YANKEES RECALL LHP BILLY TRABER: Chien-Ming Wang sat quietly at his locker with his right foot in a soft cast, crutches resting on a nearby chair.

Asked to describe his emotions, the injured ace of the New York Yankees gave a one-word answer.

"Sad," he whispered.

Wang is expected to be sidelined until at least September after injuring his foot running the bases Sunday in Houston. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, and the Yankees recalled reliever Billy Traber from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

To fill Wang's spot in the rotation, New York will give right-hander Dan Giese a start Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds. Giese has made three appearances for the Yankees this season, all in relief.

GRIFFEY MISSES HIS SALUTE: Ken Griffey Jr. was sick on Tuesday, keeping him out of the Cincinnati Reds lineup on the night picked to honor his 600th home run.

Manager Dusty Baker said Griffey became ill on Monday, the team's day off, and wasn't feeling much better. The Reds commemorated his 600th homer before the opener of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Griffey was on the field with his family while the team showed highlights of his career on the video board. Griffey turned his cap backward and addressed the crowd briefly.

"I just want to thank everybody for coming here," he said. "Thank you."

KONERKO ON DL: Chicago White Sox's veteran first baseman Paul Konerko has a new experience and it's not one he wanted. He's landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

"I'm a little bit lost," Konerko said Tuesday as he discussed his injury, a strained left oblique muscle he got while hitting in the batting cage Sunday.

"I was actually probably about two swings away from being done for the day. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary," he said. "I swung and kind of released with my top hand, which I do a lot anyway. It didn't hurt, I just felt something give. I stepped out for a sec, then got back in and tried to take two swings. Then it was sore."

Konerko had an MRI taken and went on the DL Tuesday. His injury is one that can linger if not treated properly or rushed, and that's why he can't do anything for the first week but rest.

Konerko, who broke in with the Dodgers at the end of the 1997 season, entered this year as a .281 career hitter and 276 homers — 269 of them with the White Sox, whom he joined in 1999.

RED SOX PLACE COLON ON DL: Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a stiff lower back, and injured right-hander Curt Schilling was sent back to Boston for an examination with team doctors.

Boston recalled righty Chris Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Colon's spot.

Colon (4-2, 4.09 ERA) was injured Monday taking a swing during an at-bat against Phillies starter Cole Hamels. Colon left after five innings because of the stiffness.