With Day 2 of pitchers and catchers on tap, eyes also will be on the U.S. District Courthouse in lower Manhattan late Thursday afternoon. In Judge Jed S. Rakoff's courtroom, oral arguments are scheduled to be heard on Fred Wilpon and family's motion to toss the $386 million lawsuit. There is also a motion by the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme to award $83 million -- two years' profits -- even before the scheduled March 19 trial. In Port St. Lucie, Johan Santana throws his third bullpen session of spring training, with special rules that means he does not need to do drills with other pitchers.
I'll be doing a Mets chat at 2 p.m. Please join me here.
Thursday's news reports:
• Terry Collins expressed disappointment shortstop Ruben Tejada did not report to camp early. Position players are not required to report until Saturday, although virtually all of the Mets have been seen at the complex already. Jason Bay, who is in Port St. Lucie, according to a team spokesman, as well as Scott Hairston and Ronny Cedeno also have not yet participated in voluntary workouts or otherwise been visible at the complex ahead of the official reporting date. Bay is expected today. Read more in Newsday, the Post, Star-Ledger and Daily News.
• Ike Davis traveled to New York for more extensive testing after his camp physical turned up something that required investigation, a team spokesman said. Collins said Davis already has been cleared to resume working out Thursday in Port St. Lucie, and that the issue was unrelated to the ankle issue that sidelined the first baseman after May 10 last season. Read more in Newsday and the Times.
• Mets owners have commitments for seven of the 10 minority ownership shares they hope to sell for $20 million apiece, the Associated Press reports. Beyond billionaire Connecticut resident Steve Cohen, who also is a bidder for the majority stake of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it is unclear who is buying blocks. The New York Times previously stated four of the $20 million blocks will be purchased by SportsNet New York, of which the Wilpon family is majority owner. Writes the AP:
The sale of the limited partnership units will not take place until all 10 can close at the same time, a person familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing. New York owes $25 million to Major League Baseball, a loan whose repayment was extended from November until March, and $40 million to Bank of America. The team chose to sell limited partnerships following the collapse of a deal last summer with hedge fund manager David Einhorn.
• The Mets plan to watch free-agent left-hander Scott Kazmir throw on Friday, GM Sandy Alderson indicated. Buster Olney reports the Mets are one of six teams pursuing Kazmir.
• Mets hitters got a preview of the new Citi Field dimensions when they hit Wednesday on a back field in Port St. Lucie that has been reconfigured to the Flushing stadium's new dimensions. Read more in the Record, Times and Newsday.
• The Ottawa city council approved spending as much as $5.7 million on improvements to a stadium in order to relocate a Double-A Eastern League team to the city, The Ottawa Citizen reported. The paper reiterated its previous reporting that the Mets' Binghamton affiliate is expected to relocate. B-Mets officials have issued denials. Wrote Neco Cockburn:
No official statements were made before the council vote about the team expected to move to Ottawa, but minor-league sources have indicated it’s believed to be the Binghamton Mets, and that the new owners in Ottawa would be expected to pursue an affiliation agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays. A staff report says a 10-year lease arrangement has been proposed, with two five-year extension options.
• Jason Isringhausen signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels. "Jason brings a great deal of experience," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told Bill Plunkett in the Orange County Register. "He's a 300-career save guy with a fearless mentality. He's been around. He knows what it takes. We've talked all along about wanting to bring in guys who can make a difference for us on the mound and serve as a mentor in the bullpen situation for our young pitchers. Jason fits that bill -- and it doesn't hurt that he had seven saves, 19 holds and held right-handed hitters to a .498 OPS last year. ... He's coming off a year in which he pitched in 53 games for the Mets from the start of the season until September [when a herniated disc issue arose], and pitched well enough in critical parts of the game to save seven games and have those 19 holds. We're not expecting to get the 2004 version of Jason Isringhausen. What we are expecting is a guy who will come in here and compete for a job."
• Anthony Destefano in Newsday previews Thursday's Madoff-related court hearing involving trustee Irving Picard and the Wilpons. Writes Destefano:
The hearing before Manhattan federal District Judge Jed Rakoff is expected to last at least two hours as trustee Irving Picard and attorneys for the Mets try for the last time to persuade him to end the case in their favor and avoid a March 19 trial. Also on the agenda are challenges to each side's list of expert witnesses.
TRIVIA: Which Hawaiian-born player has appeared in the most games as a Met?
(Wednesday's answer: Coach Matt Galante was the last person in a Mets uniform to wear No. 8, in 2002. Galante currently is a scout for the Houston Astros.)