Chris Young should arrive at the Mets' clubhouse ecstatic on Sunday morning, after his Princeton Tigers hit a shot at the buzzer to beat Harvard in a play-in game for first place in the Ivy League and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Pat Misch starts the Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals, while Chris Capuano works in a minor league intrasquad game at 10 a.m. Monday is a team off-day.
On to Sunday's news reports:
• Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch in the Bergen Record report Johan Santana's throwing sessions on flat ground have not been going well, and he may be forced to be shut down and the season written off. Reports the Record:
One member of the Mets’ organization said that the team is ready to shut down the rehabilitation schedule for Santana if he does not feel comfortable after what is expected to be a simple session of playing catch. According to the source, Santana has not been progressing in his return to light throwing and the team is concerned enough to halt this section of his rehabilitation. By doing so, the Mets’ timetable of a possible late-June, early-July return to the team would likely be wiped out. Internally, the Mets believe they’ll be “lucky” if Santana pitches this year.
• It's been one week since Carlos Beltran appeared in his lone Grapefruit League game at DH, when he went 1-for-3 and then was idled with left knee tendinitis. "I'm getting better," Beltran told the Post's Dan Martin. "I really am. And I know my knee is going to be fine soon. ... If this happened earlier in my career, I might not be able to handle it. But trust me, now I know what I need to do to get ready, no matter the situation. I've had to figure it out."
• David Waldstein of The New York Times takes a look at Jason Isringhausen's return to Mets camp at 38 years old and as the elder statesman in the clubhouse. Izzy notes he wasn't quite as mature as a teenager and as one of the Mets' brightest prospects. The article notes that while recovering from one of his surgeries, in 1997, Isringhausen was spotted playing softball for a strip club's team. Writes Waldstein:
An immature, accident-prone prospect, who once fell drunkenly off a balcony here, returns to the Mets 18 years after that catastrophe as a sage, even-tempered veteran, who spends as much time dispensing wisdom to young teammates as he once did making crude jokes and inadvertently sabotaging his promising career. Now that he is the oldest player in camp at 38, with 293 career saves and 11 operations on his résumé, none of this is lost on Isringhausen. Where now he agonizes over every minute spent away from 8-year-old Madolyn and 19-month-old Emerson, he once cared only about playing baseball and having fun. “I try not to think about it too much because when I look back on it, I was so immature and so dumb in terms of baseball,” he said. “I was very loud and obnoxious. I never listened to anybody, and there are guys in there right now that are the same way.”
• NYPD investigators have found a Port St. Lucie storage facility in which fired clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels allegedly stored hundreds of thousands of dollars of signed jerseys, particularly from the '86 Mets, according to the Daily News. A law enforcement source told the newspaper Samuels was "basically looting the Mets clubhouse over the years."
• Catcher Ronny Paulino, who arrived at Mets camp Saturday after finally getting his visa issue resolved, indicated he had been working out at a stadium in the Dominican Republic and is "ready to go." Paulino is slated to be Josh Thole's backup, but Thole tells the Star-Ledger's Zach Berman he's not taking anything for granted. “First off, I don’t want to go and say, ‘It’s my job,’ because being that this is my third camp, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things happen,” Thole tells Berman. “Being able to sit with the pitchers and have conversations with them and not feel out of place, and have intelligent conversations with them, I think is the key to the spring.”
• Post columnist Joel Sherman notes the various things that have to break right for the Mets to be competitive, and assigns percentages. The chance Beltran has 500 plate appearances? Twenty percent. Santana making 10 starts: 30 percent. Jason Bay has 500 plate appearances: 80 percent. R.A. Dickey keeps up his success: 80 percent. The Mets have a bona fide second baseman in camp: 5 percent. Jose Reyes remains healthy: 80 percent. Young and Chris Capuano have 50 starts between them: 10 percent. "The future is so bright you have to wear rose-colored classes," a scout dryly tells Sherman.
• The Star-Ledger does a Q&A with left-hander Mike O'Connor, who is in camp on a minor league deal. O'Connor made 20 starts for the Washington Nationals in 2006 and is a product of George Washington University.
• Newsday's Anthony Rieber notes Daniel Murphy is hitting .303 in Grapefruit League play, but committed two errors Saturday against the Braves. Meanwhile, Brad Emaus is hitting .200, Justin Turner .136 and slap hitter Luis Castillo .263. So no one is distinguishing himself, and Luis Hernandez is now under outside consideration for second base.
My analysis: J.P. Ricciardi has known Emaus as former GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, and has seen him closely as recently as the end of the 2009 season. Spring-training performances can be deceptive anyway. If Ricciardi believes in Emaus' ability -- and he apparently does -- then letting a spring training disuade you is silly, unless major alarm bells go off. Murphy, by the way, will be on the major league bench, at the very least, because of his bat.
• Steve Greenberg, the man charged with finding a minority owner to pair with Fred and Jeff Wilpon, tells Newsday's Steven Marcus he has rejected ownership inquiries seeking a majority stake. Marcus also notes some investors are content having a minority share with no say, strictly for the profit-making ability. He writes:
Yankees limited partner Lester Crown, a Chicago billionaire industrialist, has very little interest in the team beyond the financial bottom line. This is typical among limited partners in baseball, according to Steve Greenberg, a managing director of the firm that is screening prospective bidders for a piece of the Mets. Crown personifies the typical minority owner of a sports team in that money buys a stake but usually not a voice in day-to-day operations.
Marcus tracks down the 85-year-old Lester Crown, who tells the story of rooting for his hometown White Sox against the Yankees, despite ownership interest in the latter team. He tells Marcus: "We're not Yankees fans, we're Chicagoans. One time the Yanks were playing the Sox and George [Steinbrenner] whacks me on the arm and said 'Why are you rooting for the White Sox, you can't do that.' I said, ' George , with the Sox I look at the boxscore, with the Yankees I look at the attendance.' ''
• Newsday notes that Terry Collins visited Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar in the hospital after Saturday's game. Santana sent a personal note along to his fellow Venezuelan, who was struck in the eye with a line drive off the bat of Brian McCann last week and faces more surgery Sunday.
BIRTHDAYS: Santana turns 32. ... Terry Leach was born on this date in 1954. He was 24-9 with a 3.11 ERA and seven saves in 176 appearances (18 starts) for the Mets from 1981-89. ... Al Luplow, a Mets outfielder in 1966 and '67, was born in 1939.