Thursday is the first official pitchers and catchers workout, with only Ronny Paulino delayed by visa trouble, according to Terry Collins. One report has Fred Wilpon poised to make an appearance at the complex Thursday. Johan Santana is due to address the media, although pitching coach Dan Warthen already has relayed the relevant info -- that Santana recently started playing catch. A July return seems realistic. Position players report Saturday and have physicals Sunday, with the first-full squad workout scheduled for Monday.
On to Thursday's news reports:
• Columnist Harvey Araton in The New York Times believes Jeff Wilpon shouldn't have made a public appearance Wednesday at the Mets' Florida complex. In fact, Araton writes, the Wilpons should go underground for a while.
Bob Klapisch in the Bergen Record offers the same sentiment, only a little more bluntly. "Short of selling the Mets to Mark Cuban, the biggest favor the Wilpon family can do for their fans is to disappear while the courts sort out the Madoff scandal," Klapsich writes. "But good luck to anyone hoping Fred and Jeff will have the common sense to please, please shut up."
Meanwhile, the Daily News' John Harper thought Wilpon was smart to show his face and speak. Harper writes: "Jeff Wilpon did the smart thing for his ballclub, showing up and making himself seen and heard in an attempt to show that it's business as usual, and Fred Wilpon apparently will do the same Thursday."
• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro used Wilpon's media session to drop a Charlie Samuels reference. Still, Vaccaro concludes: "As much as anything, though, the Mets embraced the return to routine that baseball always offers as a salve, its life-goes-on mantra."
• Meanwhile Francisco Rodriguez stepped out of his Lamborghini and calmly pledged to be a different person in his life, but the same character on the mound. "On the mound it's going to be the same," K-Rod told assembled reporters. "It's going to be the same attitude, the same cockiness and arrogance." Here are the news stories from, the Post, Daily News, Newsday, the Record and Times. ... Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger uses Rodriguez's arrival to announce that K-Rod's fielding-independent pitching (FIP) in 2010 was 2.63, which apparently was his best since 2004. That stat removes fielding as a factor in computing ERA.
• Collins' nearly 30-minute news conference Wednesday included the pledge not to alter K-Rod's usage to affect his $17.5 million option vesting for 2012 with 55 games finished. "In the past, when I managed, I didn't want to know about incentives," Collins said. "I tried to win the game. And I'm going to do that this year. Just going to try to win baseball games." ... Mike Puma in the Post went with Collins' line about reinstilling a swagger in the Mets. He also quotes the manager about Luis Castillo: "Say what you want, but [Castillo] is still the hardest player in the National League to strike out. That speaks a lot. If his legs are healthy, I think Louie is going to be a presence." I still think Collins was just searching for a compliment, and his preceding comment about second base being an offensive position was his real point of view, meaning Daniel Murphy and Brad Emaus have far better shots at being the second basemen.
• The Wall Street Journal tries humor regarding Donald Trump's reported interest in the team.
• Even though Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, a Mets season ticket holder, said he has no intention of buying the Mets, the Post's Kevin Kernan says don't rule him out if things get uglier for the Wilpons and they do have to sell out.
• Joel Sherman listens as former Mets manager Dallas Green in Phillies camp talks about his granddaughter's murder at the scene of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson. "You know, I’m supposed to be a tough sucker," Green said. "I’m not really tough when it comes to this. So I apologize.”
Both Sherman and the Daily News' Bill Madden relay Green's thoughts on gun usage: "I guess the one thing I can't get through my mind is, even though I'm a hunter and I love to shoot and I love to have my guns, I don't own a Glock and I don't have a magazine with 33 bullets in it. That doesn't make sense to be able to sell those kinds of things. What other reason is there to have those things but to kill people?"
BIRTHDAYS: Roger Craig, who lost 24 games with the '62 Mets and lost 22 games the following year, was born on this date in 1930. ... Juan Padilla, who pitched in 24 games in relief for the Mets in 2005, turns 34. ... K-Rod undoubtedly sends birthday wishes to Brian Bruney, who turns 29.