Mets GM Sandy Alderson takes leave of absence to be treated for cancer
NEW YORK — His voice quavering at an unexpected news conference, Sandy Alderson revealed what he had just told his team moments before.
His cancer has returned, he’s taking a leave of absence — and his up-and-down tenure as New York Mets general manager is essentially over.
With the team in a massive tailspin, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and the 70-year-old Alderson made the announcement before Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“With respect to the future, I would say two things: One is, notwithstanding the good prognosis, my health is an uncertainty going forward,” said Alderson, who agreed to a contract extension in December. “And secondly, if I were to look at it on the merits, I’m not sure coming back is warranted.”
Asked whether he would like Alderson to resume his GM duties if his health eventually allowed that, Wilpon answered the same way twice: “I think his health and his family are first and foremost.”
Assistant general manager John Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya will run the club’s baseball operations in Alderson’s absence. Minaya preceded Alderson as Mets general manager, and Ricciardi was GM of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001 to 2009.
Alderson was hired by the Mets after the 2010 season. He was diagnosed with cancer at the end of the 2015 season and had surgery, but he stayed on the job. He reduced his work schedule at times but remained in a full-time role while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
“One difference between then and now is that that took place in the offseason,” Alderson said. “I had a surgery in the offseason, I had some chemo in the offseason. Much easier to manage that with offseason activity. I had the decision-making authority basically at that time. I will not have the decision-making authority going forward. If people want to call me, they’re welcome to do so. But at the same time, I don’t expect to be involved in day-to-day activity.”
Ricciardi, Minaya and first-year manager Mickey Callaway were all in the interview room at Citi Field when Alderson and Wilpon made the announcement.
Wilpon said Alderson informed him of his decision Sunday.
“It is paramount to all of us that care greatly for Sandy that he makes this a priority for him and his family,” Wilpon said, later adding: “The wear and tear on Sandy, I’ve seen up close and personal. I talked to him a couple times about maybe taking a leave, maybe stepping away a little bit, and I had sort of forgotten about it because so much has been going on.”
According to players, Alderson broke down a bit as he spoke to his teary-eyed team in the clubhouse before addressing the media.
“It definitely puts life in perspective,” said outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who was Alderson’s first amateur draft pick in 2011. “Just very somber news that we received. Our heart’s broken for him. He’s been through this battle before. He knows what’s in store.”
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