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Mets morning briefing 3.5.12

3/5/2012

Video from Sunday's bowling night, including Jason Bay and R.A. Dickey in action on the lanes.

Fitting of a Met, Tim Byrdak took a perfect game into the ninth (frame) before the feat eluded him. Still, Byrdak missed only one pin and finished with a 279 in his third and final game during the team's camaraderie-building bowling event Sunday night.

Today, the Mets open their Grapefruit League schedule with Dillon Gee getting the start at 6 p.m. opposite John Lannan of the Washington Nationals at Digital Domain Park. Matt Harvey, Miguel Batista, Daniel Herrera, Byrdak and Frank Francisco also are scheduled to appear for the Mets. (See upcoming pitching probables here.)

Shortly beforehand, all eyes will be on Judge Jed S. Rakoff's expected ruling. Rakoff is due to announce his decision whether to grant Fred Wilpon and family's request to toss the $386 million lawsuit brought by the trustee trying to recover money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Alternatively, Rakoff could allow the March 19 trial to proceed. He also could award $83 million to trustee Irving Picard, which is the alleged profits withdrawn by the Wilpons from the Ponzi scheme in the two years before Madoff's arrest.

It will be an eventful week. Tuesday, Johan Santana is scheduled to appear in his first Grapefruit League game. Wednesday afternoon, the Mets visit the new-look Marlins in Jupiter, although Jose Reyes is not scheduled to play. The Marlins also have a game that night in their new stadium in Miami against Florida International University, and Reyes is expected to man shortstop in that exhibition game.

Monday's news reports:

Ike Davis discussed on Sunday morning his apparent case of valley fever. He does not currently have any symptoms and blood tests did not reveal the presence of valley fever, but doctors still suspect he contracted it while in his native Arizona. (Watch video of Davis discussing his situation here.) Read more in Newsday, the Daily News, Post, Record and Star-Ledger.

David Wright will not play at least in the first couple of Grapefruit League games due to a left rib-cage issue. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News, Record, Times and Newsday.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes the Mets have to be conservative with injuries to their starters in order to safeguard against them missing significant time. The reason is the Mets' glaring lack of depth beyond the regular lineup and rotation arms. Writes Harper:

If ever there is a season when any significant injuries could be deadly, it’s this one. How can it be any other way when the Mets’ best left-handed bat off the bench may well be Adam Loewen, a converted pitcher with 39 major-league plate appearances, and their sixth starting pitcher apparently will be 41-year-old Miguel Batista? In an era when depth is seemingly more crucial to a team’s success than ever, as players pushing their bodies to the limit break down all too often, the Mets have never been so vulnerable. Depth? You want depth? The Mets are practically the Kardashians of baseball, they have such little depth.

One NL scout told Harper: "Their lack of depth might as well be a neon sign telling everyone they don't have any money. Their payroll is down something like $50 million and they still couldn't spend on a few veterans to give themselves a little margin for error? That can’t be going over too well in New York."

• Regarding Judge Rakoff's expected ruling today, Richard Sandomir in the Times reports that only the specific action -- whether a March 19 trial will proceed or not, and whether the trustee will be awarded $83 million without the need for going before a jury-- will be announced by the judge. A written opinion justifying the decision will not come until a later date, according to Sandomir. Read more in the Daily News.

Brian Costa in the Journal profiles pitching prospect Jeurys Familia, who is part of the heralded group that also includes Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia. Familia did not start playing baseball in his native Dominican Republic until he was 15 years old. Writes Costa:

The conversation that changed the course of Jeurys Familia's life was not a pleasant one. It took place seven years ago, inside his family's cramped, two-bedroom house in Yaguate, Dominican Republic. And it made him abandon the game he loved. For years, his father, Jorge, had watched him shun the island's national pastime in favor of basketball. But now he was 15. It was time to consider his future. It was time, his father told him, to find a more plausible way out of poverty. It was time to try baseball. "I told him no," Familia said. "I said, 'I don't want to play baseball.'" And then, finally, he relented.

• In the final intrasquad tune-up for the Grapefruit League opener, Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese tossed two scoreless innings apiece. Pelfrey worked entirely from the stretch, trying to work to speed up his delivery and cut down on steals against him during the upcoming season. He was happy with the late bite on his sinker, which he primarily threw, and which will be important in reducing the number of homers he surrenders. Read more in Newsday and the Post.

• During spring training, the Mets are a lot more like average folk, Andrew Keh notes in the Times. It's early to bed, early to rise. In fact, many Mets players enter the clubhouse by 7:15 a.m., or earlier. Terry Collins clocks in at 4:30 a.m.

• Single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today at Mets.com or by calling 718-507-TIXX.

TRIVIA: Who started on Opening Day in 2006, the season the Mets came within a game of reaching the World Series?

(Sunday's answer: After being fired by the Mets, Willie Randolph worked as a coach on Ken Macha's staff with the Milwaukee Brewers, then on Buck Showalter's staff with the Baltimore Orioles.)