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Mets morning briefing 3.15.11

3/15/2011

After an off-day, the Mets return to action with their lone night game of the Grapefruit League, in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday against the Washington Nationals. Chris Young starts for the Mets.

On to the day's news reports:

Mike Puma in the Post reports Terry Collins plans to name Luis Hernandez his second baseman. There is this hedge in the piece:

But Collins' plan to install Hernandez at second base could hit a snag if the front office insists upon keeping [Brad] Emaus, a Rule 5 selection last winter. Emaus must remain on the Mets' 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Blue Jays, who left him unprotected. If Collins is told he must carry Emaus, the Mets would then likely have to decide between Hernandez and Murphy for one roster spot.

• Newsday's Anthony Rieber shows the other side of baseball, beyond the big contracts and large signing bonuses. Rieber profiles left-hander Les Walrond, who paid his own way to a Mets tryout camp in Port St. Lucie at the beginning of the month and was the only player signed. Walrond, who has appeared in the majors with the Royals, Cubs and Phillies, played in Japan in 2009 and South Korea last year. Writes Rieber:

In 2005, when he was a free agent, 28 teams called. This year, he did the calling. "I told my agent, 'I set aside some money, I'm going to buy some plane tickets,' " Walrond said. " 'Just call the teams and let them know I just want to give them 10 minutes and watch me throw.' " ... Walrond signed on the spot and was issued uniform No. 92. He is working to get into pitching shape with kids who were preteens when he made his major-league debut in 2003. He struck out Barry Bonds that year ("changeup"), and gave up Bonds' 728th home run three years later ("fastball away"). He once struck out Ryan Howard.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Major League Baseball is trying to limit the risk of the Mets being sold in a bankruptcy auction by restricting banks holding roughly $400 million in loans from selling the debt they own to hedge funds. The belief is that those funds, if they bought Mets debt, might hasten the Mets landing in bankruptcy. Authors Randall Smith and Matthew Futterman write: The restrictions could help protect the team from investors who buy distressed debt and then seek to profit, often by pushing for a restructuring or a bankruptcy filing.

• Newsday highlights the people who auditioned Monday at Citi Field to win the right to sing the national anthem at a game this season.

Andy Martino of the Daily News says pitching Dan Warthen, and to a lesser extent former bullpen coach Randy Niemann, are Oliver Perez's biggest champions in the organization and the reason he's still getting a look, now as a lefty relief specialist. "With Ollie, I feel like a father with his child," Warthen tells Martino. "I love the energy he brings every day. I get mad as hell at him sometimes."

Mike Sielski of The Wall Street Journal looks at Collins' fascination with Lucas Duda, who is becoming more of a factor as Carlos Beltran's knee issues persist. While a short-term absence could be plugged by Scott Hairston and Willie Harris, who both are performing well at the plate in the Grapefruit League, Duda would be the logical choice at this point for an extended absence. Of course, before last week, Duda's professional right field experience included nine minor league games. Writes Sielski:

It seems a strange thing, to suggest that a player who batted .202 as a rookie might most help a team offensively. But in Duda's case, the apparent contradiction is as much an acknowledgement of his potential as a hitter as it is of the development he still must make as a right fielder. After that 1-for-34 waste land to begin his Mets career, he hit .320 with four home runs and a .993 on-base-plus-slugging percentage over his final 50 at-bats last season, and he's put up comparable numbers this spring: a .297 average, four doubles, two home runs.

Zach Berman of the Star-Ledger profiles Willie Harris.

BIRTHDAYS: No one born on March 15 has played in a major league game with the Mets.