Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Mets [Print without images]

Monday, February 21, 2011
Mets morning briefing 2.21.11

By Adam Rubin

Terry Collins held his first weekly team bowling night on Sunday, on the eve of the first full-squad workout.

On to the Monday news reports ...

• Collins tells Mike Puma of the Post there won't be an outright ban on card playing, but there will be a limit. "It's my understanding [card playing] was an issue last year," Collins said. "They will be allowed to play cards, but there is going to be a cutoff time before the game." ... You may recall former hitting coach Howard Johnson in Pittsburgh late last season expressed disgust internally with the volume of card playing. Meanwhile, it's doubtful you will see coaches participating this year -- at least not to the level that former first base coach Razor Shines did.

Luis Castillo arrived at camp and met with Collins. Castillo told Collins that his brother was undergoing surgery Monday, and that's why he did not arrive early to camp. Collins, for his part, told Castillo that the second-base job is up for grabs -- even if that might be a generous assessment, since it's ultimately expected that Castillo will get released. The manager also told Castillo to leave that dropped pop-up at Yankee Stadium in the past. Here are the reports in Newsday, the Post, Record and Times. ... Post columnist Mike Vaccaro's take: "If anything, Castillo seems fully cognizant he is fighting for his career at age 35, that Daniel Murphy and Brad Emaus, even Justin Turner, could beat him out for a job, that the Mets seem far more likely to cut ties with him as opposed to [Oliver] Perez. ...  The one thing he can't do -- probably won't ever do -- is reverse the tide of public opinion. Not unless he reported to camp with Robinson Cano's game tucked in his duffel bag." ... Interestingly, Newsday's Ken Davidoff notes, Castillo's offensive stats actually after been better since the drop in the Bronx. Before: .373 OBP/.339 SLG/.712 OPS. After: .393/.351/.745.

Andy Martino in the Daily News quotes players saying fans have a misperception of Castillo. Says Carlos Beltran: "The way people see him outside the clubhouse is so different from the way he's seen in the clubhouse. ... I like him because he plays hard and he cares. I have been around a lot of players, they come to the ballpark and they don't care if they win or lose. You have to stay away from those guys. Guys like Luis make you better." ... That topic, you may recall, was broached by me here.

• Collins said one major message when he addresses the full squad at 9 a.m. will be: "These guys better understand I expect to be successful. I'm sorry. I can't do it alone. They've got to buy into it. We can't worry about the perception from the outside." Read more in Newsday.

Jason Bay first said he did not want to cite a particular home run total as a goal, but subsequently suggested 30 is a reasonable number for him to want to achieve going into any season. As for his 2010 struggles in the homer department -- he finished with six -- Bay said: "I don't want to say you press, but I think you can't make it up all at once. It's frustrating, but that's the reality of the game. It was kind of a blink of an eye and all of a sudden it was July. I was kind of like, 'Wow, I haven't really done much.' I kind of got buried in it. I had some good days and some bad days, but for whatever reason, I just wasn't driving the ball out of the ballpark." Read more in the RecordNewsday and the Star-Ledger.

• Daily News columnist John Harper provides reasons for Bay to bounce back, including feeling more comfortable in New York and at Citi Field in 2011. Harper notes David Wright went from 10 homers overall two seasons ago, with intimidating Citi Field as his home ballpark for the first time, to 29 last year.

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger examines Collins' statement that Castillo could bat second if he makes the team -- which, as we've mentioned, isn't the likelihood. Write McCullough: "If he hits second, the obvious issue is this: [Angel] Pagan (.765 OPS in 2010) would lose his number of at-bats to Castillo (.604 OPS). So too would first baseman Ike Davis (.791 OPS), who would likely move back to No. 7. When praising Castillo, Collins often mentions how a pitcher cannot strike him out. Which is true. Take 2009, Castillo’s last full season. He finished 24th in the majors in strikeout percentage, whiffing only 11.9 percent of the time. The problem? His lack of power."

Brian Costa in the Wall Street Journal writes about pitching coach Dan Warthen, one of two holdovers from Jerry Manuel's staff, along with third base coach Chip Hale. Writes Costa: "So tenuous was his job as Mets pitching coach last season that instead of leasing an apartment in Manhattan, as he had done since 2008, he shared a house on Long Island with bullpen coach Randy Niemann. It would be easier, that way, to pack his bags and return to his home in Oregon at a moment's notice."

Omar Minaya recently vacationed in Europe and is still mulling his options, but the ex-GM is still welcome back in some capacity, the Post reports.

• The New York Times writes a lengthy piece reviewing how the Wilpons' Sterling Equities allegedly screened prospective investors for Bernard Madoff, and how those investors were not allowed to speak with Madoff directly.

BIRTHDAY: Joe Foy, who was born on this date in 1943 and attended Childs High School in the Bronx, played 97 games at third base for the 1970 Mets. He passed away at age 46 in 1989.