Mets morning briefing 3.19.12

The Mets' complex is closed today -- for major and minor leaguers -- allowing for a near-48-hour break before the big leaguers regroup for a Tuesday night game against the Washington Nationals at Digital Domain Park. So all of the action today should be in lower Manhattan, where jury selection and opening statements are expected to begin in the clawback lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family brought by the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Monday's news reports:

Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson in the Times wonder if the Wilpons might settle soon, for some number between the $83 million for which the judge has indicated they likely already are on the hook and the maximum $386 million with the most adverse outcome from the district-court round of the trial. Write Sandomir and Belson:

Mario M. Cuomo, a former New York governor who is the mediator in the case, has attended hearings but there has been no palpable optimism about a deal. Asked Sunday if a settlement could come as early as Monday, he said by telephone, “You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.” He said that his goal in meeting with the sides had been to reach a settlement which could theoretically come at any point during the trial. Any settlement would logically be between $83 million and $386 million. The Mets might think that they could afford to pay a potential settlement in the neighborhood of $165 million. Still, producing a lot of cash quickly might be difficult.

Tim Byrdak returned to camp five days after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and said that while Opening Day is a "long shot," the team's projected six-week absence is way too conservative. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Mike Pelfrey allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings Sunday against the Houston Astros, as the Mets' Grapefruit League winless streak increased to nine games. Pelfrey said he was trying to overthrow to get his arm strength up for fastballs during the season, and his sinker control suffered as a result. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Journal and Record.

David Wright, working his way back from an abdominal tear, hit off a tee and swung at soft flips Sunday. Meanwhile, Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada (groin) should be in the lineup Tuesday night. The manager hopes to see D.J. Carrasco (ankle) and Pedro Beato (shoulder) on a mound soon.

Wright told columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post that he's certain he will be ready for Opening Day on April 5 at Citi Field. "Each day I get better and better and I’m doing more and more,’’ Wright told Kernan. “I think I got lucky where I did it so early in camp [so] I had the luxury of waiting and being patient, and I haven’t had any setbacks. I’m at the point now where I’m feeling good, but I can’t go out there and overextend myself and set me back."

Fernando Martinez struck out three times and walked in four plate appearances against his former club. F-Mart said he was surprised by being placed on waivers by the Mets during the offseason, but insisted he had no bitterness toward his former employer. Read more in Newsday, the Daily News and Post.

• Outfielder Cesar Puello and right-hander Jeremy Hefner were optioned to minor league camp after Sunday's game, reducing the number of players in camp to 40. Puello, who turns 21 on April 1, hit .259 with 10 homers last season at Class A St. Lucie. Hefner was claimed off waivers by the Mets during the offseason after going 9-7 with a 4.98 ERA for San Diego's Triple-A affiliate last season. Hefner could be exposed to waivers again in the next two weeks with the Mets needing to clear as many as three 40-man roster spots, for backup outfielders and a lefty relief specialist in Byrdak's absence.

• The Mets' top two minor league affiliates lost exhibition games to Marlins farmhands Sunday.

Mike Kerwick in the Record looks at the range of Mets on Twitter. Josh Thole had a bad experience last season and dropped it, but the list of participants is growing. The latest addition: Byrdak (@Givemethelefty). Sandy Alderson (@MetsGM), by the way, has been idle since a Feb. 28 tweet about his dog, Buddy Alderson.

TRIVIA: For which former public official is the lower Manhattan courthouse where the Wilpon-Madoff trial is due to take place named?

Sunday's answer: The eight players to start for the Mets in right field last season were Carlos Beltran (91 games), Lucas Duda (38), Scott Hairston (11), Mike Baxter (7), Jason Pridie (6), Nick Evans (4), Willie Harris (3) and Martinez (2).