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Nationals dismayed over Randolph

Nats dismayed over Randolph

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge, catcher Paul Lo Duca and manager Manny Acta know Willie Randolph very well.

Milledge and Lo Duca played for Randolph as recently as last year, while Acta coached under Randolph for two years before becoming Washington's manager in 2007.

All three were saddened to learn that the Mets relieved Randolph of his duties as manager early Tuesday morning.

Randolph had been under scrutiny ever since the Mets blew a seven-game lead last September and were overtaken by the Phillies to win the National League East. Milledge was part of that collapse and said it was up to the players to get the job done.

"I think it was unfair," Milledge said. "A lot of people say he could have done a lot of things, but all we had to do was win a couple of games -- four or five games. That's not his fault."

Milledge described his relationship with Randolph as "up-and-down." There were times he didn't know if Randolph was on his side. It's no secret that Acta was the one that took Milledge under his wing during their time together in New York.

"I knew [Randolph] was for me, but sometimes I got mixed signals. All in all, I think he wanted me to do well, but he never let me know," Milledge said.

Lo Duca said he was not surprised that Randolph lost his job, but the catcher said the way the Mets handled the situation was wrong. Randolph was dismissed at the team's hotel after the Mets defeated the Angels, 8-6. The media found out about Randolph's dismissal around 3 a.m. ET.

"It was handled very badly, very unprofessional," Lo Duca said. "My heart goes out to Willie. He is a good person. He did a good job there. I tried to call someone to get Willie's number. I wish him the best. I consider him a friend."

Acta said that Randolph treated him with respect during the two years he was the Mets' third-base coach.

"He was very good to me. It's unfortunate that it happened. That's how the game goes," Acta said.

The Washington skipper also was not happy that his name continues to come up when it comes to the Mets' managerial job. Acta has never denied being friends with general manager Omar Minaya and assistant general manager Tony Bernazard, but Acta said he wants to remain the manager of the Nationals.

"I think most of those comments are blown out of proportion," Acta said. "People are making a lot out of nothing. I was never brought in or interviewed for the Mets [managerial] job. I was brought in to be the third-base coach and help with the infield.

"People are really mistaken about my relationship with Omar Minaya and Tony Bernazard," Acta said. "We are friends and those are two guys that I talk to during the season and during the offseason because they are my friends. It has nothing to do with the Expos, Mets or Nationals. It's a friendship. I'm a National. I'm very happy here. I'll be here as long as the Lerners, Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden wants me to be here."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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