Mo Vaughn sat in front of his locker, pounding his bat against the floor for emphasis.
"This is not a mutiny," Vaughn said Friday.
Yes, Vaughn acknowledged, he was one of the players who met this week with Angel General Manager Bill Bavasi to discuss player concerns about a pending contract extension for Manager Terry Collins. Vaughn stressed he would not let the development distract the players from their championship pursuit but steadfastly declined to endorse Collins.
"I'm not going to say anything about that. I've been in enough GM and manager situations," said Vaughn, who loudly and publicly feuded with Boston General Manager Dan Duquette when he played for the Red Sox last year. "I'm not about to get into another. I've left that in the past.
"I'll do what I can to keep this team straight and let the people upstairs make those decisions. I'm not about to endorse anything."
The Angels indicated they still planned to extend Collins' contract, although club officials want first to address as many player concerns as possible. Vaughn, Randy Velarde and Todd Greene met with Collins hours before Friday's game.
"It was all about healing," Velarde said.
For his part, Velarde said, he wanted to apologize face-to-face for criticizing Collins in print earlier this week. Velarde also said it is unfair to judge Collins at this time, given the frustrations and limitations inherent in fielding a lineup devoid of All-Star shortstop Gary DiSarcina and power-hitting outfielders Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon.
"We're the final product," Velarde said. "We don't have the players that should be out here. That's the only way you can make a true assessment of the type of manager he is."
While Collins is more than willing to meet with his players, he respectfully declined to discuss the controversy publicly Friday.
"The best way to get this over is to stop talking about it," Collins said. "If you don't mind, I'd like to stop talking about it."
Vaughn, the team leader, all but laughed off the idea of a clubhouse in turmoil.
"I don't think it's as drastic or crazy as everybody's making it out to be," Vaughn said. "It's a great story, but it's not a big problem. . . . This is the last thing I was thinking about coming in here today."
Vaughn denied the players initiated the meeting with Bavasi--"We never went to the GM," he said; it is believed Angel President Tony Tavares heard the player complaints and dispatched Bavasi to the clubhouse. Vaughn also said he met with his teammates earlier in the week and reminded them to play hard whether they admired or disdained Collins.
"I don't care who likes who and who doesn't," Vaughn said. "The main thing is to be professional about it and do our jobs."