No. 5 starter Chris Capuano takes the mound against the Cardinals in Port St. Lucie, R.A. Dickey flies to Nashville for the birth of his son and Carlos Beltran tries to ramp up his activity with an eye toward playing right field this weekend.
On to Thursday's news reports:
• Brad Emaus is destined to be the Opening Day second baseman, with Daniel Murphy also on the roster. Both Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins acknowledged Wednesday that Justin Turner having options remaining was a major factor in deciding to option Turner to Triple-A Buffalo. "I would have liked to have seen how the cards would have fallen if we were in the same boat," Turner said before leaving the major league clubhouse. "I definitely got my at-bats, and I feel like I may have underperformed a little bit offensively. I'm obviously capable of a lot more than that, but it is what it is."
• David Waldstein in the Times reports: The Mets have discussed the possibility of sending [Murphy] to Class AAA Buffalo to play second base every day. It’s considered more likely that he will remain with the big league club as a utility player and pinch-hitter.
• Brian Costa in The Wall Street Journal notes Emaus has a supporter in former Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who now heads the Mets' pro scouting department. "I think the appealing thing for us is, he sees a lot of pitches," Ricciardi tells Costa about Emaus. "As we go forward, that's the type of team we'd like to have, guys that do get on base, guys that grind out walks." Emaus will wear No. 4 during the regular season. Writes Costa:
The Mets swung at 31% of all pitches outside the strike zone in 2010, according to FanGraphs.com, the sixth-highest mark in baseball. It was no coincidence that their team on-base percentage (.314) ranked just 25th in the majors. Emaus may not be a prodigious hitter, but he takes pride in making pitchers work for outs.
• Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger looks at the similarities between Emaus and Turner. He writes:
The two players possess similar profiles. Emaus is 24; Turner is 26. Both starred in college, both stand below 6-0. Both starred last year in Triple A: Turner posted a .906 on-base plus slugging percentage in 78 games with Buffalo; Emaus posted an .890 OPS with Toronto’s affiliate. Turner entered the day hitting .231. Emaus was hitting .235. Yet here is the difference, minute but critical, as Alderson made his assessment: Emaus had a nearly 100-point advantage in on-base percentage, a product in his ability to draw walks. He walked twice against Detroit righty Brad Penny on Tuesday.
• The Daily News' Anthony McCarrron also quotes Ricciardi on Emaus, saying: "He has hit. Is he going to be Chase Utley? No. But is he capable of being an everyday, big-league player? I think he is in the right circumstance. Maybe this is it, maybe this isn't. He's a gap-to-gap hitter, everywhere he's been he's been a .270-.280 hitter and he's going to hit 15 balls in the seats once he plays regularly. ... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Dan Uggla was left out there at one time [as a Rule 5 pick]."
• Mike Puma of the Post is the lone dissenting voice and not ready to anoint Emaus second baseman. Writes Puma:
Last night a source involved in this week’s organizational meetings told The Post the position still is up for grabs. According to the source, Emaus will play second base for the next three or four days -- he may receive a day off somewhere during that stretch -- then be re-evaluated by team brass. If he is not deemed capable, the Mets could change course. Mets special advisor J.P. Ricciardi, who was behind the team’s decision to select Emaus in the Rule 5 draft last winter, is on board with the idea, according to the source. Emaus has done nothing to impress the Mets defensively, and his .216 batting average with no homers and one RBI this spring hardly provide a convincing case to make him the starter.
Puma goes on to assert that Chin-lung Hu could become a factor in the second-base competition, and Luis Hernandez could open the season on the disabled list. ... I've heard the Mets are already holding trade talks involving Hernandez, who is out of options and boxed out by Hu as the backup middle infielder.
• Read more on second base in Newsday.
• David Lennon of Newsday notes its no surprise Oliver Perez latched on with the Nationals. After all, he becomes the 11th Scott Boras client associated with the team, by the report's count. One Nationals staffer suggested the likelihood is Perez just stays in Viera, Fla., after teams break camp and tries to rediscover his mechanics and velocity with Nats pitching coordinator Spin Williams, who worked with Perez with the Pirates. Williams is quoted in The Washington Post saying: "We're no smarter than anybody from that standpoint of trying to get the guy better. But I had a pretty good rapport with him. He's struggled as of late, but he's still young enough. It'll be interesting to see where he's at. See if we can give him [something] different."
• Steve Popper in the Record looks at Jason Isringhausen's fight to continue his career. He opens the story with this poignant exchange:
Jason Isringhausen was on his iPhone late Tuesday night, video-chatting with his 8-year-old daughter, when he asked her if she was ready for Dad to come home. With her face pressed close to the camera, she told him he still could play baseball.
Popper also quotes pitching coach Dan Warthen explaining the pop Isringhausen felt in his right elbow during his last Grapefruit League appearance. "Everybody suspected it was scar tissue breaking loose," Warthen tells Popper. "So he came down and saw the doctor who did the surgery, who reiterated the same thing. Everything structurally was in great shape in there. He probably did break scar tissue in there. It moved the tendon down a little farther. That’s what he felt. That was only on the curveball. Everything was taking its natural progression."
As it stands now, Isringhausen has a real battle to make the team. Blaine Boyer has an "out" in his contract next Thursday, on the eve of the regular season, and has very much impressed. If the regular season started today, it sounds like the Mets would take Pedro Beato and Boyer for the final two bullpen slots, joining Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Tim Byrdak and Taylor Buchholz.
BIRTHDAYS: Garry Templeton, who appeared in 80 games for the Mets in 1991, was born on this day in 1956. He arrived in a May 31 trade that season from San Diego for Tim Teufel. ... Jesus Alou, uncle of fellow ex-Met Moises Alou, was born in 1942. The outfielder appeared in 62 games for the Mets in 1975.