Mets morning briefing 3.28.11

Terry Collins plans to trot out his Opening Day lineup for Monday's Grapefruit League game -- at least his Carlos Beltran-less Opening Day lineup, which may be his Opening Day lineup, if that makes sense. Beltran, meanwhile, intends to take a day off and plans to play in a major league exhibition game Tuesday, which largely eliminates the ability to backdate a disabled list stint and would mean he is likely breaking camp with the team.

On to Monday's news reports:

• Newsday's David Lennon profiles 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey, the Connecticut native and right-handed pitcher from the University of North Carolina, who pitched on a back field in Jupiter in a minor league game Monday. Harvey limited the Cardinals' Class A team to one hit while issuing no walks in four scoreless innings, with a fastball that ranged from 94-96 mph and an 86 mph slider. "I feel great," Harvey tells Lennon. "I actually enjoy throwing every fifth day a lot better than once a week [in college]. I feel a lot more active and strong, and to be honest, as soon as we got on that five-day rotation, I felt a lot more comfortable. My arm felt a lot better."

David Waldstein of the Times, in a review of Jason Isringhausen's solid Grapefruit League work, floats the idea that Bobby Parnell could be optioned to the minors to make room for Isringhausen and Blaine Boyer on the major league roster. My take: Parnell cannot go from set-up man to Triple-A Buffalo closer to preserve depth, and I don't believe the organization would actually do it. Collins is on the record saying 2010 performance, not spring training, must be the dominant factor in making decisions.

As I've mentioned, heading into the weekend, I've heard Boyer was a more likely selection because of the fear of losing him and then having Isringhausen break down. But we'll see, because Isringhausen hit 91 mph Sunday against the Cardinals, in his first Grapefruit League game since getting shut down with elbow inflammation.

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger sums up Isringhausen versus Boyer this way:

How to separate them? Boyer has a 0.90 ERA this spring; Isringhausen has a 1.29 ERA. Boyer threw 57 serviceable innings in 2010; Isringhausen’s right elbow has undergone three Tommy John surgeries. But Isringhausen has this: 293 career saves and a bevy of knowledge to bestow upon younger players like [Pedro] Beato and Parnell. Collins believes that provides value. He knows Rodriguez developed his on-field mentality thanks to the tutelage of Troy Percival, his former Angels teammate. Isringhausen could fill a similar role for this team.

• Pitching coach Dan Warthen tells Steve Popper of the Record about Isringhausen: "He’s had a great spring, a lot more than I expected or anticipated. I’m very happy with everything he’s throwing. He’s still got the special curveball. He’s cutting [his fastball], sinking it. He has all the pitches. By all means he can pitch in the major leagues. His stuff is there. I still don’t know what resilience there is to be able to pitch three and four times a week. That’s the only question we have.”

• Read more on Isringhausen in the Post, Daily News and Journal.

• Meanwhile, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal notes Parnell's slider will be the key to his success. Writes Costa:

If Parnell can throw the slider for strikes, throw it in all counts and, in doing so, learn to trust it, he could well be the team's closer of the future. He would be a homegrown, low-budget successor to Francisco Rodriguez, who will earn $17.5 million in 2012 if his option vests. But if his only viable off-speed pitch fails him, if he cannot continue to evolve as a pitcher, then a middle reliever is all he will likely be. "The league knows who he is now, so they're all cheating on fastballs," Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "He could throw his slider for a strike, get strike one and even put people away with it, because they're all going to be geared up."

Andy Martino in the Daily News notes Nick Evans' days with the Mets may be numbered. The only way Evans can make the Opening Day roster appears to be if Beltran is on the DL, and that's only temporary anyway. At some point, Evans has to be exposed to waivers before being sent to Buffalo, where any team can select him. Will Evans get through waivers? I've heard mixed things, although more industry sources believe he will clear than be claimed -- especially if the Mets wait until in-season to place Evans on waivers, because other teams' 25- and 40-man rosters are largely full at that point.

"I'm completely unsure of what's going on, and where I'm going to be a week from now," Evans tells Martino. "I'm really trying hard not to think about it. It sounds stupid, but I'm trying not to wonder about it -- although I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't curious."

Also out of options and unlikely to make the club are Manny Acosta, Pat Misch and Luis Hernandez. Because of a lack of sound backup middle infielders around baseball, Hernandez may very well get traded in the next few days, since he would be fairly likely to get claimed. Misch actually can declare himself a free agent if he cleared waivers, although he would be expected to stay with the organization because his 2011 minor league salary with the Mets would be better than he could get elsewhere, and it's often better to be where they know and think highly of you. Under that scenario, Misch might form a quality Triple-A rotation with Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Boof Bonser and Josh Stinson.

• Post columnist Kevin Kernan remained back in Port St. Lucie to watch Beltran go 2-for-5 in a Triple-A game Sunday. Writes Kernan:

Beltran had his most positive day of spring training yesterday, playing right field for five innings in a minor-league game against the Cardinals, batting left-handed, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs, scoring a run and testing his left knee in a variety of ways, including ranging to his right to catch a line drive. He looked so much better than he did Saturday. He smiled and joked with teammates. And after a slow start, popping up and striking out, he seemed to find his swing by the end of the hot, sunny day. When it was over, a confident Beltran sat at his locker and said he is on target for Opening Day.

BIRTHDAYS: Paul Wilson, part of Generation K with Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher, turns 38.