Mets morning briefing 3.12.11

Ronny Paulino will be at Mets camp Saturday. Promise. Many of his new teammates will be boarding a bus for ESPN Wide World of Sports and a matchup with the Atlanta Braves.

On to Saturday's news reports:

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal gets Chris Young to recount the line drive off the bat of Albert Pujols that shattered the right-hander's face on May 21, 2008 and altered his career. Young believes the inactivity forced by the shattered facial bones resulted in the first shoulder woes surfacing upon his return. "I didn't know where the ball had gone," Young tells Costa about the line drive. "I just looked down and my pants and jersey were covered in blood. I didn't even feel the pain at that point. I was just sitting on the mound mad, like, 'Uh, come on, I don't want this to happen.'" Writes Costa:

The scar begins on Chris Young's forehead, just above his eyebrows. It meanders down between his eyes, stopping at the bridge of his nose, which is slightly dented. It is only about an inch and a half long, too small to detect on television. The redness that made it noticeable initially has long since faded. But the mark that remains tells the story of how Young got here.

• The Times' David Waldstein, meanwhile, talks with Young about the need for NCAA reform. The 6-foot-10 former two-sport star at Princeton is serving on an athletics advisory committee for the school. Young's wife Elizabeth, a former Princeton soccer player, also is on the advisory board. He believes coaches' salaries should be tied to graduation rates. "What’s the point of having a team full of guys who are great athletes and they can win a national championship and none of them graduate?” Young tells Waldstein. “There are some programs like that, where the coaches don’t care whether their players graduate or not. The business side has become so dominant that the education has been overlooked. There is so much money involved, and that becomes the bigger issue than kids going to school and getting an education.”

It's a separate issue, but Young isn't thrilled with at least one Ivy League policy either. He completed his degree even after signing with the Pirates in 2000. But Young, who obviously had to give up college baseball at that point, also was barred from competing in college basketball once he signed the baseball contract because the Ivy League rule was more stiff than the general NCAA rule. (Maybe he can rail against Ivy League teams not being allowed to participate in NCAA football playoffs, too.)

Young, by the way, will be staring at ESPN3 this afternoon at 4, as his alma mater faces Harvard in a basketball play-in game at neutral-site Yale for the Ivy League's NCAA Tournament berth. He had hoped to watch it on television with some Mets executives -- Harvard products Paul DePodesta and Adam Fisher and former Princeton teammate Jon Miller -- but alas, it's only on the computer.

Kevin Kernan of the Post catches up with Dwight Gooden, who is headed to Dr. Drew's "Celebrity Rehab" show. "I'm looking to change my life, to get things right," Gooden tells Kernan before boarding a flight for California. "I want to attack my problems and figure out why I go back to alcohol and drugs. I'm really looking forward to doing this. I'm ready. I've got to get it done. It's totally up to me to get it done. ... I've been through different rehabs before but this is a celebrity rehab situation. So people who maybe have dealt with some of the same issues I have had to deal with -- how to deal with different pressures, how to deal with different family situations -- will be there with me to help."

• Newsday's Jim Baumbach has more on the Wilpons' continued interest in owning a Major League Soccer team. MLS commissioner Don Garber tells Baumbach: "We've been in discussions on and off for the better part of a couple of years, including over the past couple of months. The discussions haven't been in great detail but I continue to reach out to them to wish them well and hope they can get through their challenges and at some point continue their discussions with us about Major League Soccer."

Jason Isringhausen tells Newsday's Anthony Rieber how he arrived at the decision to come back from his third Tommy John surgery. "I was home playing softball with all the guys from my daughter's church school," Isringhausen says. "Playing the outfield ... I was throwing the ball and I said, 'I feel pretty good.' Come Jan. 1, I said, 'I'm going to get on the mound and see what happens.' I went about that process and felt pretty good, so I called my agent and said, 'Why don't we see if we can find somewhere I can throw?' And here we are."

• With Francisco Rodriguez being used in the ninth inning of a 10-0 Grapefruit League game Friday, Post columnist Joel Sherman wonders whether the Mets will, in fact, manipulate Rodriguez's usage this year. It could be more subtle than, say, using Bobby Parnell in a save situation. Often times, managers use their closers for mop-up duty if they have gone several days without pitching, just to keep them sharp. Would Terry Collins and Dan Warthen avoid that if they knew using him in those situations could allow K-Rod to cross the 55-games-finished threshold that triggers a $17.5 million option for 2012? If Rodriguez does not finish 55 games, he essentially makes $15 million this year -- $11.5 million salary and a $3.5 million buyout -- and is a free agent next winter. Another scenario is, if the Mets are out of the race, giving Parnell some late-season save chances with the justification that they need to prep a young pitcher for that role too. Writes Sherman:

The union would argue there is a covenant of good faith, that all usage decisions must be made independent of contractual provisions. And the union will watch diligently all year to see if grounds for a grievance emerge. Grievances over option-year usage patterns are not unique. Yet only one has gone to an arbitrator. Dennis Lamp had a $600,000 1987 option with Toronto that triggered if he reached a point total based on appearances during the 1985-86 seasons. In 1986, Toronto essentially benched Lamp -- he went 25 days between appearances, for example, in September. He finished just shy of the point total to vest the option. Nevertheless, arbitrator George Nicolau ruled in favor of the Blue Jays, deeming that Toronto manager Jimy Williams stopped using Lamp based on ability (5.05 ERA in 1986) not contractual considerations.

• The Post's Dan Martin talks with Fernando Martinez after the 22-year-old outfield prospect, along with Ruben Tejada and nine other players, were the first cuts from major league camp. "I've been here a long time, but now I feel comfortable and I know what I'm doing," Martinez, who has averaged 77 games a professional regular season because of assorted injuries, tells Martin. "I'm finally healthy and things are coming together for me. I think today is going to be a good day." ... Read more in the Daily News.

• The Record's Art Stapleton reviews Ryota Igarashi's day trying to get information about his extended family after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit his native country. His family is safe, Igarashi later said via interpreter Mike Peters.

• The Record also heads to the minor league side of the Mets' complex to catch up with right-hander Jack Egbert from Rutherford, N.J., and Rutgers University. Egbert, who originally came to the organization as a Sept. 25, 2009 waiver claim from the Chicago White Sox, underwent Tommy John surgery last April. He re-signed with the Mets organization a week ago. "All the bus rides, having to be at the facility early for workouts, guys can get a little tired of that, complaining a little bit," Egbert says. "All of a sudden, when that’s gone and maybe for good, that’s a pretty scary thought. After something like this, you stop thinking about where you are going to pitch and start worrying about when."

BIRTHDAYS: Darryl Strawberry turns 49. ... Carlos Muniz, who appeared in a combined 20 games in relief for the Mets in 2007 and '08, turns 30. ... Outfielder Shawn Gilbert was born in 1965 in Camden, N.J.