AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mets manager Terry Collins apologized in a fashion, a day after criticizing New York fans who thought he hadn't defended one of his players.
The Mets began Wednesday on a five-game losing streak and with six losses in seven games, and the manager said his words were caused by frustration.
"You know, I'm a human being and I made a bad choice of words," Collins said.
Collins said Tuesday that he wasn't accountable to fans who have "absolutely no idea what goes on."
He'd had no issue with the Pirates plunking Jordany Valdespin during last weekend's series after he admired a home run too long, and he said Valdespin had been aware he'd be targeted.
On Wednesday, Collins complimented the "most knowledgeable fans I've ever been around," and said he understood that drama surrounding the team might be interesting when a team is losing.
He added he hadn't been "baited" into sounding off and wanted fans to know he had faith in his roster.
"Once again, I want our fans to understand I'm working my butt off to get better, period," Collins said.
Rick Ankiel made his second start in center field after making his Mets debut Monday using borrowed equipment while his glove and cleats were stuck in transit from Houston.
Ankiel barely missed a diving catch in the seventh inning on a pinch-hit double by Ty Wigginton that started the Cardinals' go-ahead three-run rally.
Ankiel, who used one of reliever Scott Rice's gloves, said he'd have made the catch if he'd had his own glove.
"He's got all of his equipment now finally," Collins said. "Now," he added with a smile, "those balls will stick in that glove."
Collins said after the game that Ankiel didn't get a good jump on Wigginton's bloop to shallow center and said Wednesday he'd been a little surprised Ankiel hadn't taken his equipment home to South Florida after getting released by the Astros.
Ankiel hasn't pitched since 2004, when he moved to the outfield after several bouts of wildness combined with injuries. Collins didn't completely rule it out if the rotation woes don't end.
Collins added Ike Davis was a potential arm, too, if a game was out of hand, "so don't' be surprised if one of these days I say, 'Hey, let's go.'"
Ankiel had control issues in the 2000 playoffs against the New York Mets.
The Mets got encouraging news on top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, who was examined by team physicians in New York on Wednesday for shoulder soreness.
Collins thought the 22-year-old Wheeler would miss one start with Triple-A Las Vegas and remained on track to join the team soon.
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