Carlos Beltran makes his second Grapefruit League appearance of the spring as Terry Collins starts his Opening Day lineup in Viera against the Nationals. The Mets will lose the ability to backdate any ensuing disabled list stint once Beltran appears in a major league exhibition game, signaling a high degree of confidence he will break camp with the team. Perhaps there will be an Oliver Perez sighting as well in Viera. Chris Capuano is scheduled to pitch three innings against Washington, with R.A. Dickey staying back in Port St. Lucie and facing minor leaguers.
On to Tuesday's news reports:
• ESPNNewYork.com has learned Nick Evans, Luis Hernandez and Pat Misch are on waivers.
• With fewer and fewer teams on the Atlantic side of Florida for spring training, Laurel Pfahler talks to St. Lucie officials about their concerns about the Mets eventually jumping ship too. Pfahler notes that while the Mets' lease runs through 2018, the buyout is only $500,000 next year and $400,000 in 2013. Local officials would like to lure a second team to Port St. Lucie, to share the facility with the Mets, like the arrangement the Marlins and Cardinals have in Jupiter. The tipping point could come if the Nationals leave Viera, an hour north of Port St. Lucie, which is the rumbling.
• Frank Robinson, who managed the Montreal Expos while Major League Baseball controlled the club and contraction appeared a possibility, told the Post's Dan Martin the Mets might be in for a rougher time than he had with the now-defunct club. "It's a much larger problem than we had in Montreal because it's ongoing and it deals personally with their ownership, since a lot of them know the Wilpon family," Robinson tells Martin. "My players were jaded by the time I got there, because they had been hearing rumors about the team for a few years. ... For the Mets, it's all new. It's going to be a distraction ... They're going to have to deal with questions they can't answer and don't even know about."
• With the Mets poised to keep a pair of Rule 5 picks, second baseman Brad Emaus and right-hander Pedro Beato, Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal looks at that draft process, which takes place on the final day of the winter meetings in December. For a large-market club to carry two Rule 5 players is highly unusual. "It's rare to carry one, much less two, out of the Rule 5 draft," GM Sandy Alderson tells Costa. "You can interpret carrying two Rule 5 guys two different ways. One, great selections. Or two, not a lot of competition. But I actually think it's more the former than the latter." The picks cost the Mets $50,000 apiece. Writes Costa:
Since 1993, only six teams have had more than one Rule 5 draft pick make the Opening Day roster, according to Stats Inc. And only one of those teams finished with a winning record. "Usually it's a team like the Mets that doesn't have many up and coming prospects for the upcoming season and has some holes on their roster," said Jim Callis, executive editor of Baseball America.
The last Rule 5 selection to last a whole season with the Mets, the requirement to become the organization's official property, was catcher Kelly Stinnett in 1993. One Mets notable loss in recent years was catcher Jesus Flores to the Washington Nationals, although his promising career has been slowed by shoulder injuries. (Flores had been with St. Lucie the season before he was selected, and the Mets did a pre-draft study suggesting no catcher from Class A had ever stuck with his new team at the major league level for a full year. So they left Flores unprotected.)
Read a 20-year history of Mets selections in the Rule 5 draft that I produced on Feb. 23 here.
• Newsday's Neil Best takes a look at Bobby Valentine's new role as ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst. Writes Best:
He interviewed for managerial jobs. He was named director of public safety and health in Stamford, Conn. He admitted to speaking to people exploring partial ownership of the Mets. He planned a fund to aid victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, where he managed in 1995 and from 2004-09. Oh, and in December, he was given one of the most prestigious, high-profile assignments in televised baseball: as an analyst on ESPN's retooled "Sunday Night Baseball." "I was honored," he said. "I've been a lucky guy all of my life. To think a job that hadn't been open in so long all of a sudden came open and it happened to be a year after I got my wings back doing TV work, I counted my blessings."
• The Post's Mike Puma checks in with Angel Pagan about working with Beltran, since Tuesday marks the first time they will actually play alongside each other in a Grapefruit League game this spring -- and first time ever they'll do it with Pagan in center and Beltran in right. "I have to try and get used to [Beltran's] voice and how loud he calls for the ball," Pagan tells Puma. "... Whenever I call it, he'll get out of the way. But he's a very smart outfielder, and I'm sure he'll understand his role now."
• The Times reported Jason Isringhausen has been asked to stay behind in Florida when the Mets break camp, at least for a week or two in extended spring training. That would make it easier for the Mets to get Blaine Boyer on the roster. Of course, if Boyer would go to Buffalo, Manny Acosta could get on too and the Mets could hold onto all three.
BIRTHDAYS: Ex-Mets prospect/Oakland GM Billy Beane turns 49. ... Former highly touted outfielder Alex Ochoa turns 39.