Mets morning briefing 2.24.11

Last day before games begin. Intrasquad Friday. Grapefruit League opener Saturday.

The day's news reports:

Ronny Paulino isn't alone in having difficulty getting his visa secured. Dave Seminara of The New York Times reports approximately 17 players have been affected for assorted reasons. Writes Seminara: "According to Dave Sohier, the nonimmigrant visa chief at the United States Embassy in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, delays most commonly affect young players who have had brushes with the law while in the United States. Many established Dominican stars, meanwhile, have attained resident status, or green cards, enabling them to live in the United States." Ronald Belisario's agent told The Times his client, who has pleaded guilty to reckless driving among other transgressions, could miss the entire season. ... Sandy Alderson has indicated Paulino's 50-game ban by Major League Baseball for getting flagged for a performance-enhancing substance, which has eight games remaining, is the primary reason for Paulino's visa issue. Alderson recently noted MLB does not typically try to intervene in those government affairs.

Sandy Alderson tells David Lennon of Newsday that Rule 5 picks Brad Eamus and Pedro Beato have "excellent" chances of making the Opening Day roster. "Often a Rule-5 guy is somebody who can do maybe one thing well enough to survive as an extra player for a whole year," Alderson tells Lennon. "Maybe he runs really well, or plays great defense. But in [Emaus'] case, he's competing for a starting position, and it's unlikely that he'll be here if he doesn't earn that starting position." ... Also read about Beato in the Star-Ledger, where Andy McCullough writes: "Beato cautioned that he won’t hit his top velocity, 97 mph, until adrenaline floods his system during the season."

• The Post's Mike Puma takes Terry Collins' comment that second base has become an offensive position to Luis Castillo, since preferring a solid bat at that spot leans toward some combination of Emaus and Daniel Murphy. “It will be good, because we have a new manager and he says he’s going to get me at-bats, and I believe him,” Castillo tells Puma. “If I have a good spring training, I think I have a chance. I’ve been in the league a long time, and I know what I have to do and I know I can help the team win some games.” J.P. Ricciardi was GM of the Blue Jays when Eamus was drafted by Toronto. And Ricciardi says of Eamus: "This guy can hit." ... The Daily News' Andy Martino's sources say Collins will fight for Murphy on the roster in some capacity, but there are concerns about his fielding that he has to overcome in Grapefruit League games. Bottom line: Since Justin Turner has options and can be sent to the minors without passing through waivers, the righty-hitting Emaus is well-positioned to make the team as the second baseman, with the lefty-hitting Murphy getting some playing time there too.

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal chats with Murphy about his move to second base. Costa reviews Murphy's glove collection from the assorted positions Murph has played, writing: "The big one, 12 1/2 inches long, is for first base. There's a glove for second base, 11 1/2 inches long, and a glove for third, which is a quarter-inch smaller. He also has a glove for left field, though he left that one at his home in Jacksonville. 'I don't think I'm allowed back out there,' he said."

• Newsday columinst Ken Davidoff interviews Carlos Beltran and also comes away with the impression "it's apparent he's willing to switch to right field and let Angel Pagan play center field." Davidoff also discusses the thawing of Beltran's relationship with the Mets. As you may recall, he was called out for undergoing Jan. 13, 2010 knee surgery, which the organization alleged was without its consent. "We had our issues before, but that's in the past," Beltran said.

• Collins acknowledged he would have preferred Jenrry Mejia open the 2010 season at Triple-A Buffalo. Read more in my column as well as in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.

• Congressman Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) attended the Mets' workout Wednesday as a guest of Jeff Wilpon. Newsday's David Lennon writes: "Israel, a huge Mets fans, talked about sitting near President Obama for the State of the Union address, but added, 'Standing between Carlos Beltran and David Wright was much cooler.'''

• MLB.com's Anthony DiComo profiles Kai Gronauer, the Mets' German catching prospect in camp.

• The chairman of Digital Domain, which has naming rights to the Mets' spring training stadium, has no interest in buying a piece of the Mets, John Textor told Newsday. Digital Domain is a movie special-effects company.

• The Times reviews potential reasons for trustee Irving Picard requesting, and being granted, until March 18 to amend his lawsuit against Mets owners. “This is not earth-shattering,” a lawyer told the newspaper. “I would view this as ministerial and routine.” But another lawyer opined: “I would think this is not just Picard dotting some i’s and crossing some t’s. It could be new information that has surfaced since December."

• The Daily News quotes U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) as vowing to probe how the mother of the top Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer allegedly made $1.5 million in fictitious profits from a Bernard Madoff account when her estate was liquidated by the family in '05. "I was not involved with my parents' financial affairs and don't remember knowing about any investment with Madoff until after my mother's death in 2004 and the subsequent liquidation of her account," Daniel M. Becker, who worked for the SEC from 2000-2002 and then from 2009 until earlier this month, told the newspaper in a statement. The Daily News then quotes Ackerman siding with the Wilpons: "How were they supposed to know if the chief investigative agency didn't? It enhances their legal position, I think dramatically, if somebody at the agency has investments. ... Certainly he's a more sophisticated player because he's the chief counsel at the agency that has oversight over the bad guys." ... Commentary: While no one reasonable is wishing ill will on the Wilpons, Ackerman essentially is advocating less money for people who lost principal if he wants Picard to limit the amount recovered from the Mets owners to straight fictitious profits, which is not dependent on the known or should have known principle. (And it was the mother who opened the account, no? The sons liquidated it.) ... Perhaps I should have asked Israel what he thought Wednesday when he visited Mets camp.

• Alderson tells Daily News columnist Bill Madden about the Phillies' rotation: "You still have to do it and it remains to be seen if [Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt] all pitch together like [John] Smoltz, [Greg] Maddux and [Tom Glavine]."

BIRTHDAYS: Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, who hit a combined .274 with 43 homers and 193 RBIs in 1992 and '93 as a Met, turns 55. ... Catcher Gustavo Molina, who appeared in two games in 2008, was born on this date in 1982 in La Guaira, Venezuela.