NEW YORK (AP) — Making his first public appearance since collapsing during a news conference two months ago and later announcing he was undergoing cancer treatment, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson looked fit and healthy.
Alderson attended Thursday's Hall of Fame news conference featuring former New York star Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr., who were elected to Cooperstown a day earlier.
"I feel good, and things are improving," he said. "It's nice to be back to a routine and working toward the 2016 season, as it would be for anybody."
The 68-year-old collapsed at Citi Field on Nov. 4 while speaking with reporters following the announcement of a new contract for manager Terry Collins. The NL champions said Dec. 4 he had undergone surgery for a treatable cancer and was starting chemotherapy.
"I've been working 100 percent since really just after the winter meetings," Alderson said. "I just couldn't travel to Nashville that particular Sunday and Monday. Otherwise I would have been there. But since that time I've been in the office and fully participating."
Alderson replaced Omar Minaya following the 2010 season. After four losing seasons under Alderson, the Mets returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and made their first World Series appearance since 2000, losing to Kansas City in five games.
Since the World Series, the Mets have watched outfield star Yoenis Cespedes and second baseman Daniel Murphy leave as free agents. They signed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and outfielder Alejandro De Aza, acquired second baseman Neil Walker in a trade and re-signed pitcher Bartolo Colon.
"The idea that we're not investing in the team I think is really misplaced and sort of tied up in the populism involving Cespedes," Alderson said.
According to Alderson, the Mets payroll this year could be $35 million higher than it was in 2014. Major League Baseball's final figures had the Mets at $93 million in 2014 and nearly $110 million last season.
"We know that Cespedes was instrumental to us getting to the postseason. We know Daniel Murphy was instrumental in us getting to the World Series," Alderson said. "But I think along the way we learned a few things about ourselves and about the team, and I think the way we've approached the offseason puts some of those lessons into play. It's not as if we're not looking to improve the team, and, if possible, in significant ways. But it has to make some sense in terms of how these pieces all fit."
New York has shied away from pricey free agents. But at the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Cespedes, who had 17 homers and 44 RBIs in 57 games. He turned 30 is October and is thought to be seeking a contract of at least five years.
"If we had the right fit, if we had the right healthy player in the right position, it might be a very different story for us," Alderson said. "So this isn't about inching up on team improvement. This is about trying to be, one, thoughtful about it, but also realistic."
NOTES: Alderson said the Mets are not likely to hire a replacement for Paul DePodesta, who left this week to become chief strategy officer of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. DePodesta, who also worked with Alderson in San Diego, had been the Mets' vice president of player development and amateur scouting. "He was instrumental in what we've been able to do here over the last five years in many ways," Alderson said. "Paul did a lot of different things, so I don't expect one person to take up the void that he creates. But I think we will allocate his responsibilities in ways and to people who are strong in various aspects, so I'm comfortable with where we are."