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Mets to take time in search for bench coach

Assistant GM Ricco says Teufel on short list; also discusses club's decision to bring back Mejia

NEW YORK -- Mets third-base coach Tim Teufel is on the short list to replace departed bench coach Bob Geren, assistant general manager John Ricco said Friday, though the team plans to evaluate a number of candidates. Geren recently accepted a job to become bench coach of the Dodgers.

"We do have some internal candidates that we like, and Tim's one of them," Ricco said. "But we have a couple of other guys that we're going to consider also. We're not going to rush into that, because we do feel like we have internal candidates. We won't wait all winter to make that decision, but I don't think we feel any need to rush into it. We have stability within the staff itself."

Though Geren also served as the Mets' catching instructor for the past four seasons, Ricco said the team does not necessarily need to hire a new coach capable of fulfilling those duties. As an alternative, the Mets can have an off-site catching instructor, such as Minor League coordinator Bob Natal, visit the team from time to time. But at least one coaching staff candidate, Double-A Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez, does boast professional catching experience.

Perhaps a more significant consideration will be replacing Geren's proficiency with advanced metrics.

"Bob was a big part of what we did and a big loss," Ricco said. "But we have some people that can step in, and actually create some opportunities for some of our other staff members."

The Mets have no timetable for a bench coach hire.

Bringing back Mejia "the right decision"
General manager Sandy Alderson made the final call on tendering twice-suspended closer Jenrry Mejia a contract, Ricco said Friday, commenting for the first time on the team's thought process.

"We thought it was the right decision," Ricco said. "And it wasn't a no-brainer decision."

The Mets will only wind up paying around 40 percent of Mejia's 2016 salary, possibly costing them less than $800,000, as he misses another 99 games due to a second performance-enhancing drug suspension. That price tag assuages some fears regarding the move's effect on clubhouse chemistry.

"MLB has this drug policy in place, and has pretty harsh penalties associated with them," Ricco said. "We've had Jenrry since he was a teenager, and we know him and like the person a lot. We think that people are due to have second chances, third chances. The policy is in place. At the end of the day, we looked at it like we think he's paid his penalty, or will pay his penalty. And when he's done, in terms of what we'll have, we thought it was worth the tender."

So long, Pepsi Porch
Mets officials acknowledged Friday that Coca-Cola will replace Pepsi as a sponsor beginning Jan. 1. That means the end of the Pepsi Porch area at Citi Field, where a sign mimicking the one near the Queensboro Bridge has hung since Citi Field's inaugural season.

The Mets plan to make an official announcement Monday at the New York Stock Exchange.

Viva Las Vegas
The Mets announced Friday that they will wrap up their spring slate with a pair of exhibition games against the Cubs in Las Vegas. The two teams will square off March 31 and April 1 at Cashman Field, home of the Mets' Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate, before opening their regular season April 3 in Kansas City.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Read More: New York Mets, Jenrry Mejia