Former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph is surprised that he was fired this early in the season by the team. ((John Bazemore/Associated Press))

Willie Randolph figured the New York Mets would fire someone. He just didn't think general manager Omar Minaya would pick him.

"I thought he was talking about whacking a couple of my coaches," the ex-manager told several New York-area newspapers Wednesday outside his home in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

"That's why I was stunned. I didn't think it was going to happen," Randolph said. "At the time, I felt the way he was talking to me, that I was pretty secure for the time being."

Minaya fired Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto after Monday night's win over the Los Angeles Angels.

A day after splitting a doubleheader with Texas at home, the Mets travelled to the West Coast to start the series in Anaheim, Calif.

The firings were announced in an e-mail at 12:14 a.m. PDT Tuesday.

"Not the way I would have handled it," he said. "Bottom line, it is what it is."

Randolph said he watched some of the Mets' 6-1 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night. Bench coach Jerry Manuel was promoted to run the team the rest of the season.

Randolph was dismissed with the Mets struggling below .500.

"I felt all along this team would play better and we would eventually get into the season and really do well. In my mind, this all happened way, way too early," he said.

Randolph was set to be an NL coach next month in the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium — where he played and coached for long periods — and said he still hoped to take part.

At 53, Randolph also would like to manage again.

"I'm not ready to retire," he said. "Once you get a taste of managing, it's kind of cool."