Mets morning briefing 4.27.11

R.A. Dickey tries to extend the Mets' winning streak to six games when he opposes Nats left-hander Tom Gorzelanny in the middle game of the series.

Wednesday's news reports:

• Newsday's Steve Marcus reports Fred Wilpon expects to select a new minority owner in May, with the sale closing in June and raising $200 million to pay off debt, including a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball. Among the four reported finalists, it is "too close to call" who will be selected, a source tells Marcus. The Post previous identified the finalists as one-time commodity trader Ray Bartoszek, hedge fund operator Steve Cohen, BTIG co-founder Steve Starker and hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci.

• The Mets had an uneventful voluntary visit Tuesday morning to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Last year, when Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez did not attend, it caused drama inside the organization that spilled into the media. ("I said I had feelings about [the missing players]. I just didn’t want to talk about it," Dickey tells the Record's Steve Popper about the 2010 situation.) This time, Taylor Buchholz and Francisco Rodriguez did not attend, but both had been permitted to travel to Washington on Tuesday so they could spend the Monday off-day with their families. Read more in the Record, Times, Newsday and Daily News.

• In Newsday's game story, David Lennon asks Jon Niese about a report that the southpaw might have been assigned to the bullpen had he had a poor outing Sunday, with Dillon Gee remaining in the rotation. "With a big-market team, if you don't do your job, they'll find somebody who will," Niese told Lennon. An organization source told ESPNNewYork.com that while the potential move was discussed, it was not overly likely to occur Sunday.

Brian Costa in The Wall Street Journal identifies two benefits of Beltran's ability to play every day and produce. In the short term, it gives the Mets a bona fide No. 4 hitter. Secondly, if the Mets drift out of contention, it gives the organization a viable trade piece. At the July 31 deadline, Beltran still would be owed $5,964,480.87 -- 32.3 percent of his $18.5 million salary. So the Mets may need to pick up a portion. But Beltran has been producing. Even his outs Tuesday were mostly hard-hit, including a shot deep to right-center that Nats center fielder Rick Ankiel needed an extraordinary effort to corral in the first inning. Beltran also had a rocket to right field in the sixth that was caught.

After sitting matinee games in the first four series of the season, Beltran has now started 11 straight games in right field. Of course, there's always the concern that the cumulative pounding of a season will begin to catch up with Beltran's arthritic right knee. Beltran tells Costa: "I've been feeling good, so there's no reason not to play right now. I don't even ice my right knee. I don't think about it. I put my brace on there, but it's kind of like a habit now. I come to the ballpark and put my brace on, but I don't feel anything."

Costa also notes Beltran received a no-trade clause in his original seven-year, $119 million deal. Beltran tells Costa about a potential trade: "I would listen to my agent, because they're going to approach my agent first and then me. There's a possibility that can happen if we're not in contention. I might not be the only one [traded]. There's a lot of players kind of in the same situation."

Chris Young said he felt no discomfort in his shoulder in his first outing back from the disabled list (watch video here). He allowed three solo homers and departed after 4 2/3 innings. Read more in the Record, Daily News, Post and Star-Ledger.

Ryota Igarashi stranded two runners in scoring position inherited from Young by striking out Jayson Werth. David Waldstein in the Times takes you through the Igarashi vs. Werth at-bat.

Johan Santana is throwing at a distance on flat ground up to 120 feet and should be atop a mound within days. The Star-Ledger identifies the potential date as Sunday, which happens to be the precise May 1 date the Mets had targeted when Sandy Alderson outlined a plan at the start of spring training. Other reports said Santana will be on a mound within two weeks.

Andy McCullough delves into Josh Thole's slump, which the catcher may have freed himself from by producing a tiebreaking two-run double and career-high three RBIs in the series opener. Writes McCullough:

Before last night, Thole languished behind the rest of the regulars, burrowing deeper into a slump. His frustration mounted with each swing-and-miss. In the past, Thole avoided strikeouts. Hitting coach Dave Hudgens believes Thole possesses the best plate coverage on the team. In 2010, Thole made contact with 97.5 percent of the pitches he swung at inside the strike zone, according to FanGraphs. In the spring, Thole vowed to change. He tired of tapping two-strike pitches for easy outs. He hoped to add power and stop reaching outside the zone. Through 22 games, the results were unseemly. He entered last night striking out 25.8 percent of the time, more than twice his rate from 2010. “I’ve never struck out this much,” Thole said. “Makes it tough.”

• Daily News columnist (and Dickey co-biographer) Wayne Coffey speaks with new set-up man Jason Isringhausen, who did allow an eighth-inning run Tuesday. Writes Coffey:

Go ahead and ask Jason Isringhausen how his body feels. Watch as he points to a right elbow that has had six operations (including three Tommy Johns), to a shoulder that has had three operations and a hip that has had two. "It's as good as it's going to get," he said. "I'm an old man. It's worn out. I'll keep going until it pops."

• The Mets are 5-0 since Jason Bay returned to the lineup. Bay's wife Kristen is soon due with the couple's third child, although the birth is expected during the Mets' home stand next week, which would not disrupt Bay's play, the Post writes. As for being unbeaten since his return, Bay tells Dan Martin: "I'd like to take all the credit, but it's obviously more complicated than me coming back and everyone all of a sudden hitting. We've got a lot of good hitters, and it was only a matter of time before a few of them started clicking."

BIRTHDAY: Co-tallest Met Eric Hillman turns 46. Hillman, a lefty, measures 6-foot-10, the same height as Young. Hillman was 4-14 in his Mets career from 1992 to 1994. Amazingly, there are six pitchers with worse career winning percentages for the Mets than his .222 (minimum 10 decisions). -Mark Simon