The deadline for trustee Irving Picard to file his amended lawsuit against Mets owners has arrived. Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are expected to cut seven or eight players from major league camp. R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole will form a battery on a back field against minor leaguers so the division-rival Braves do not get a second look in a week against the knuckleballer. And the Mets return home after an overnight trip to Fort Myers with D.J. Carrasco getting the start and Oliver Perez and Jason Isringhausen also scheduled to appear.
By the way, Luis Castillo enters the day in the dark about his fate, and this series of roster moves can be as simple as, say, sending Ryota Igarashi, Russ Adams, Jason Pridie, Justin Turner, Dusty Ryan, Blaine Boyer and a handful of others to minor league camp. Then again, there's always the potential for more.
On to Friday's news reports:
• Andy Martino of the Daily News wonders if Castillo being Dominican rather than American contributes to fan distatse. Writes Martino:
Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan have played well as Mets, and have not faced the same anger. People who root for a team value production, above all other qualities, and have unleashed negativity on many white players in the past. But are nonwhite players more vulnerable to being labeled lazy malcontents, and less likely to be called "gamers?" Must they work harder to receive credit for positive contributions to the team?
• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff says don't hate Castillo. Writes Davidoff:
The smart money says the Mets will release Castillo shortly. ... [And] it reflects worse on the Mets than on Castillo himself. "Sometimes things will happen. I tried the best I can," Castillo said before joining his non-traveling teammates. "That's what it is. That's why the fans sometimes, they try to push you into doing good. The fans start to feel bad, because they want you to do good." We're not here to present Castillo as some icon of integrity who has been wronged. He's just a low-energy baseball player -- and at this point, not a very good one. But all Castillo did was say "yes" in November 2007 when the Mets offered him a four-year, $25-million contract that became a likely albatross the minute it sprang to life.
Davidoff does ask Castillo about not going to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center team event last season when the Mets were visiting Washington. Castillo reiterated what he said at the time -- he felt too squeamish. "I've never gone there because I don't like to see things like that," Castillo tells Davidoff. "I've never gone. I should've maybe gone. If it happens next time, [I'll go]. I'll do the best I can."
• Carlos Beltran says he will not run or hit from the left side again Friday, which is two weeks until Opening Day, but he places the responsibility for that decision on the organization. "If they did let me choose, I would try to do things, and run out there, but that's not the smartest thing for me to do right now, so I have to listen to what I feel," Beltran is quoted by the Daily News. "It's better. Right now I'm following a plan and I have to continue to follow that plan."
• Newsday's Jim Baumbach notes Jon Niese's line Thursday against the Red Sox -- five runs (four earned), seven hits, one walk in five innings -- was far better than it appeared. Lucas Duda and Josh Thole committed errors and Nick Evans lost a fly ball in the sun that was ruled a double and resulted in two runs scoring. "Obviously, there were some unfortunate situations out there," Niese tells Baumbach.
• The Times' Mark Viera looks at the bond of Jason Bay and Justin Morneau, who both suffered concussions last season.
• Post columnist Joel Sherman floats an idea that the Rays and A's ought to be contracted, and then their owners take over the Mets and Dodgers respectively. He's told by a "person involved in baseball labor" it's unlikely, but actually has come up, at least as a concept.
BIRTHDAYS: No one who has appeared in a game for the Mets was born on March 18.