Mets morning briefing 3.1.11

Francisco Rodriguez represents the Mets in a game for the first time since being suspended following his August incident with his girlfriend's father at Citi Field, and Jon Niese also makes his first Grapefruit League appearance, as the Mets travel to Viera to face the Nationals on Tuesday.

On to the day's news reports:

• No shortage of Carlos Beltran coverage about his decision to initiate the move to right field. I write how that certainly avoided a minefield for Terry Collins. And while Beltran did the right thing, it was not exclusively selfless. The move also is likely to make Beltran more marketable when he is a free agent next offseason. Read reports about Beltran's move at ESPNNewYork.com, the Times, Record, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post and The Wall Street Journal.

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch says the cycle of constant financial and other bad news endured by the Mets "was broken Monday when the Mets, refocusing on baseball, lifted the curtain on their new right fielder, Carlos Beltran." Klapisch goes on to note that while Beltran may have been thinking about his own long-term best interest, it still went far more smoothly than what may be looming with Derek Jeter and his future at shortstop as the Yankees' captain gets closer and closer to age 40. Writes Klapisch: "Joe Girardi says he can’t imagine bringing up the subject of a position change with his 36-year-old captain. Instead, Girardi is crossing his fingers, hoping Jeter comes to him first or, even more unlikely, that Jeter retires before he loses whatever range he has left."

• ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor also feels the embattled Mets got a break with Beltran taking the initiative.

• Newsday's Steven Marcus says a list of candidates expressing ownership in a minority share of the Mets has been submitted to Major League Baseball for vetting. There are no specific names in the report, though.

Anthony Rieber of Newsday very briefly caught up with Bobby Valentine in Stamford, Conn., and heard a familiar answer regarding his interest in owning the Mets -- namely, he "talked to a number of people interested in purchasing part of the New York Mets, but I'm not formally with any group that is actively pursuing this venture." A baseball source has told ESPNNewYork.com that Valentine has spoken with serious financial backers and is lining up a bid to buy at least a portion of the Mets.

David Waldstein in the Times is skeptical Fred and Jeff Wilpon would sell to Valentine. Notes Waldstein: "Valentine was fired [as manager] after the 2002 season. The relationship has been prickly ever since, even though-- or perhaps because -- Valentine remains popular with fans. The Mets have kept Valentine at arm’s length in recent years, declining even to include him in the group of 11 managerial candidates who were interviewed after Jerry Manuel was fired last year."

• The Wilpons' lawyers will be in court Thursday arguing against U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Burton Lifland's ruling in a similar case that the standard for a "clawback" is money withdrawn over principal invested, the Times reports. Authors Ken Belson and Alison Leigh Cowan write: "The appeal is perhaps the last chance for the Wilpons and [Saul] Katz to stop what has turned into a legal freight train bearing down on them, several lawyers said. If the three-judge panel overturns Lifland’s judgment, the decision would erase the enormous liability that Picard wants to impose on some investors now classified as winners. In the case of investors like Wilpon and Katz, who Picard contends ignored warning signs, the trustee may continue to demand repayment of monies they withdrew." The Wilpons want the standard to include how much was showing on their statements when Bernard Madoff was shut down by authorities, which they asserted is $500 million. But Lifland has determined that is an unfair standard, because Madoff's statements were fiction -- meaning the swindler then would be deciding by his false numbers which investors were winners and losers. Madoff could just as easily have shown on the Wilpons' statement that they had $1 trillion.

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal notes how Jason Isringhausen got off to a positive start with his first spring-training appearance in three years on Monday. Collins says that if Izzy can get through March healthy, he has a legit shot at breaking camp with the team. ... Steve Popper of the Record notes that Isringhausen's assigned spot in the parking lot -- even if it's denoted by a No. 45 instead of a No. 44 -- has been moved to the prime location, closest to the clubhouse. ... The Star-Ledger also reviews Isringhausen's day, as does the Post.

• Daily News columnist Bill Madden sees similar storylines between how Mickey Mantle broke into the majors and the path of 18-year-old Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, who made his Grapefruit League debut when he struck out twice against the Mets.

BIRTHDAY: Former Mets catcher Ramon Castro turns 35. Castro was traded to the Chicago White Sox on May 30, 2009 for right-hander Lance Broadway.