Mets morning briefing 3.16.11

The Mets depart Port St. Lucie at 7:15 a.m. for a cross-state trip to Fort Myers, to take on the Twins today and the Red Sox on Thursday. Mike Pelfrey faces Minnesota, along with Manny Acosta, Taylor Buchholz, Ryota Igarashi, Mike O'Connor and Bobby Parnell. The Twins start Brian Duensing. Jon Niese starts opposite Boston's John Lackey on Thursday.

D.J. Carrasco continues to get stretched out on Friday as the starter, when the Mets return home to face the Braves. R.A. Dickey instead pitches on a back field to avoid seeing the division rival again. It also allows Carrasco to remain an option to serve as the long man/spot starter in the event Pat Misch is not selected for that role because, say, the Mets need to fit two pitchers from Pedro Beato, Acosta and Jason Isringhausen on the roster.

ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand provides the coverage from Fort Myers for two days.

Wednesday's news reports:

• Post columnist Kevin Kernan believes Jose Reyes' days in a Mets uniform are numbered. Reyes pledges to improve his on-base percentage, which would make him more attractive to the Mets' front office. The paradox: the better the year he has, the more costly he will get, making it less likely the Mets will sign him. Writes Kernan:

Here's one nightmare scenario for Team Nightmare: Reyes jumps to the Phillies after the season. Jimmy Rollins is also a free agent after the season. Or maybe the Yankees sign him and make Derek Jeter the DH. It's all up in the air right now, but he's likely to be a summer rental. One thing is certain: Some team will make the most of the situation by acquiring Reyes. "I still have one more year here," Reyes said. "I have to focus and do my job this year. I'm healthy and ready to go. Whatever happens after this year happens. There's no doubt I can put it all together again."

Three teams that could possibly acquire Reyes at the trade deadline and/or sign him next offseason, I'm told: Boston, San Francisco and Milwaukee.

Terry Collins believes it's his call on who will be the second baseman, and the Post's Mike Puma continues to maintain the manager's personal pick will be Luis Hernandez. "Sandy has never put restrictions on anything we're doing here," Collins told reporters before Tuesday night's 5-2 win against the Nationals. "We discuss things every day and know exactly where we stand. I know where he is on every player and he knows where I am."

The information I have suggests Hernandez is only an "outside" candidate to emerge as the second baseman. I've consistently heard, despite Collins' public praise of Luis Castillo, that he would like someone else to be the second baseman. And I still hear while it's not a foregone conclusion Castillo is released, Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus very well may be the selection.

• Castillo tells the Bergen Record's Steve Popper about a potential release: "I don’t want to think about it, what people say right now. I try to focus on playing. I want to play. I want a chance, I want an opportunity. So I’m ready. And if something happens, it happens. I want to be on the team. I want to be playing. That’s all I want."

Read more in the Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Times.

• The Daily News says the police report from Ike Davis' minor auto accident -- he was rear-ended -- notes he was "very nice and pleasant."

Sandy Alderson was in the Dominican Republic this week as part of a symposium on continuing efforts to clean up baseball in that country, including age/identity misrepresentation of prospects. Alderson was in charge of that effort before becoming Mets GM.

• Pitching coach Dan Warthen told Newsday's David Lennon that Johan Santana's flat-ground throwing session Tuesday was the left-hander's "best day yet."

• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff writes the Mets making the playoffs is a pipe dream:

The notion of the Mets seriously contending for a playoff spot -- being relevant in September, in other words, and sparking ticket sales that ownership desperately needs -- seems like nothing more than a fantasy. As one team official said this week, on the condition of anonymity, "We just can't catch a break."

• Newsday went to Citi Field to see how gangbusters ticket sales were going on Day 1 of box-office sales for individual games. Writes Cody Derespina:

Two ticket windows were open, and that might have been overkill considering the line never reached double digits. At times, reporters and photographers outnumbered the customers. The difference from years past? It could be that single-game tickets were available via the Internet on Monday. It could be Mets fans went to other venues. [Fan Bill] Tousius has his own suspicion. "What's going on with the Wilpons, a lot of us fans are disappointed," he said of the team's owners. "You should keep financial messes out of baseball."

BIRTHDAYS: Abraham Nunez, who appeared in two games for the Mets in 2008 before being replaced on the roster by Chris Aguila, turns 35.