Tim Teufel had never been to Buffalo until arriving Thursday from his home in Jupiter, Fla. The new Bisons manager was getting a tour of Coca-Cola Field and one of the stops was Pettibones Grille, the restaurant on the first-base side.
Teufel took a look at the menu and immediately found out the kind of legacy he's being asked to inherit. One of the sandwiches, a tuna-cheese-tomato on grilled rye, is called "The Terry Collins."
As in Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Terry Collins, the new manager of the parent New York Mets and the keynote speaker at Friday's Winter Hot Stove Luncheon.
"Terry has his own sandwich? That's a pretty good goal for me to have," Teufel joked to the fans in the packed grand ballroom of the Adam's Mark as Collins sat nearby laughing at the head table. "Maybe I can just start with an appetizer."
The Mets and Bisons confirmed weeks of speculation Friday by announcing Teufel's promotion from Double-A Binghamton. It will be the first Triple-A job for Teufel, who played 11 years in the major leagues and is best known as the platoon partner of Wally Backman at second base for the Mets' 1986 World Series championship team.
Teufel replaces Ken Oberkfell, who managed the Bisons the last two years and is now bench coach in New York.
Teufel's Binghamton team was 66-76 last year and his career record in eight seasons, seven in Class A, is just 403-480. But records are tough to gauge at low levels, where a few weeks of success can send a player up and leave a huge hole behind.
Standings start to mean a lot more in Triple-A. Especially in a place like Buffalo, where the front office values them.
"I'm all for it," Teufel said. "You have to come to the ballpark with a winning attitude. You don't come here to lose games. You come here to win and get better. Winning is a product of your mental preparation and your respect for the game."
Collins was impressed with Teufel from the first time he saw one of his teams. That was a few years ago in Vero Beach, Fla., while Collins was working as the Dodgers' farm director and watching his team meet Teufel's Port St. Lucie club.
"His teams play fundamentally sound baseball and they play hard," Collins said. "We had a lot of teams that played well last year and [Binghamton] had a really good team at the start of the year.
"[After numerous callups to Buffalo and New York] if it wasn't for his leadership, that team could have fallen apart. And yet they competed throughout the season. At the end of the year when all of this stuff has happened, the first and easiest choice was to name Tim Teufel [in Buffalo]."
Teufel will be heading to the Mets' camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla., next week to help out with batting and infield practice for players reporting to voluntary workouts. He was called up to the big leagues last September, getting back to the majors for the first time since his retirement as a player in 1993.
Teufel had high praise for the work Collins did in the Mets' system last year.
"The culture has changed," Teufel said. "We have a new culture in this organization and I give a lot of credit to Terry for bringing that forward. The Mets really stepped up, went and looked for a leader and found one in Terry. They brought him in as field coordinator last year and the environment changed."
In addition to naming Teufel, the Mets completed the Bisons coaching staff by announcing that former major-league slugger Mike Easler has been named the new hitting coach and that pitching coach Ricky Bones, trainer Brian Chicklo and strength coach Ken Coward will all return for their third seasons.
Easler, who played on the 1979 World Series-champion Pittsburgh Pirates, has been a major league hitting coach for Milwaukee, Boston and St. Louis. He most recently spent four years in the minor league chain of the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was hired by Collins.
"I was so impressed with the way he went about his job and the way the players reacted to him," Collins said. "You leave the batting cage with Mike Easler, you think you can hit. Whether you can or not, you believe you can and that's the attitude I want. He's upbeat, one of the most positive guys you can be around."
The Bisons unveiled a new home jersey that will be worn for Sunday games. It is a Mets-style pinstriped version with the word "Bisons" on the front. Buffalo's home and season opener, April 7 against Syracuse, is just 75 days away. Later Friday, the Mets announced that right-handed reliever Blaine Boyer has agreed to a minor league deal and will receive an invitation to major-league spring training. Boyer, 29, went 3-2 with a 4.26 ERA in 54 appearances last year for Arizona.