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Saturday, April 2, 2011
Mets morning briefing 4.2.11

By Adam Rubin

After Josh Johnson took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and Mike Pelfrey served up a grand slam to John Buck in Terry Collins' first game managed since 1999, the Mets try to regroup with Jon Niese opposing Ricky Nolasco.

Saturday's news reports:

Steven Marcus of Newsday reports that principal owner Fred Wilpon wants to select a minority parnter by the end of April. Writes Marcus:

There is a sense of urgency about the timetable because the team has mounting financial obligations due to the startup of its players' payroll and a loan coming due from Major League Baseball. The Mets took out a $25-million loan from Major League Baseball last November because the team had used up its $75-million line of credit. ... Several minority ownership candidates have met with Wilpon and will do so again, said a person close to the discussions. After the winning bidder is selected, Major League Baseball will conduct a full vetting process, delaying the transaction another four to six weeks. The interested parties have been given access to the Mets' financial records.

• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff notes about the Opening Day loss:

You'd be an absolute fool to take the first of 162 games and try to extrapolate any serious conclusions from it. The Mets won't be the last team to get shut down by Johnson, and once they broke up his no-hitter with Willie Harris' seventh-inning double, they put a slight scare into the home team, bringing the tying run to the plate and prompting Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez to go to his bullpen. Yet the reality is that, even with the more patient and intelligent [Sandy] Alderson at the helm, the Mets' 2011 campaign trudges forward carrying an unwanted gravity.

• SNY has been pulled from the Dish Network, which no longer is carrying any New York regional sports channels. Read more in the Times and Newsday. YES and DirecTV also were negotiating with the sides facing a deadline.

Lou Gorman, the general manager of the '86 Boston Red Sox team that lost to the Mets in the World Series, died Friday in Boston at age 82. Gorman served earlier as Frank Cashen's assistant general manager with the Mets. Read Gorman's obituary in the Times. It reads in part:

The Mets were in bad shape -- they were 67-95 in 1980 -- but Cashen and Gorman constructed a team that by midseason 1983 had players like the young pitcher Ron Darling, the young slugger Darryl Strawberry, the veteran first baseman Keith Hernandez and outfielder Mookie Wilson. In the wings was the future star Dwight Gooden, who was just about ready for the big leagues. The next year, Gorman left for the Red Sox, and the Mets he left behind won 90 games, finishing second in the National League East. Gorman was returning to the team he loved as a boy in Providence, R.I.

• Read game stories in Newsday, the Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News, Post and Journal. "It's the first game. There's 161 more," David Wright said. "It is what it is. It's a loss and let's move on."

Clark Spencer in The Miami Herald game recap quotes Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez dryly saying:  “Two home runs. That’s pretty good for a team with no power.” It was a reference to the trade of Dan Uggla to the Braves supposedly taking away Florida's long ball potential.

David Waldstein in the Times also wonders if this is Jose Reyes' final season as a Met -- or final months if he is dealt by the July 31 trading deadline. “The biggest compliment I can give him is that we are a completely different team with him as opposed to him not being in the lineup,” Wright tells Waldstein. “He’s a difference-maker, a game-changer. As far as being one of the most dynamic players in the game, I put him up there with pretty much anybody, just as far as his ability to get the crowd excited, his ability to get the teammates excited and really change the game in a number of ways.”

Andy Martino of the Daily News talks to Ike Davis and Josh Thole about the different comfort level now that they're sophomores.  "It took me awhile to get to bed [Thursday] night, but at least once I got to bed, I slept, unlike last year," Thole tells Martino. "Especially when I got called up and Rod [Barajas] got sent out, I was sitting there going, 'Wow, this is my job to lose.' Not sleeping, tossing and turning, anxiety all the time -- and now I'm just excited."

• The Daily News objects to the amount of money trustee Irving Picard is making while attempting to recover funds for the victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. A report from the inspector general of the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals some lawyers associated with the case are billing up to $742 an hour, according to the newspaper.

• Daily News columnist Filip Bondy notes about Collins after the Opening Day loss:

What was Collins going to do? Resign? He grinned and bore it, as many of his predecessors have done before him. He sounded like Jerry Manuel, Willie Randolph and Art Howe, only a bit peppier.  It was probably good practice for what comes next, and next, and next. "I thought the guys hung in there, played hard, I wasn't deflated at all," Collins said. "It was one of those nights. We just ran into a really, really good pitcher. I've done this for a lot of years. We'll forget all about this if we win our share of games."

Lucas Duda should be stationed in left field for Game 2. "Obviously you want Jason Bay in left field, you don't want me," Duda tells the Post's Mike Puma. "But all the guys, it's a great group of guys here, have come up to me and offered congratulations. It's a little better than being called up in September, because I know the guys a little better. I know what to expect, in a sense."

• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro writesIn so many ways, Pelfrey's quagmire reflected something the Mets are going to encounter time and again this season. They have good players; other teams have better players, and more of them. They have tried to eliminate the slapstick from their workday existence, have injected more professionalism, and that will put them in position to win more games than normal. It's just that actually winning them isn't quite that simple.

• The Miami Herald looks at the hero Buck, who came from Toronto on a three-year, $18 million deal. Writes Adam H. Beasley:

After last year’s nightmare season of catcher-by-committee -- with John Baker and Brett Hayes sustaining year-ending injuries and Ronny Paulino suspended for the last 42 games for a positive PED test -- stability at the position is a must. Of course, that part of Buck, who has never appeared in more than 118 games in a season, remains a mystery. But this much seems clear: Buck will not be a liability in the seventh spot of Florida’s lineup. Buck added a sixth-inning double to finish the night with a gaudy stat line – 2-for-4 with the run scored and four RBI. Naturally, his grand slam was the night’s highlight, an opposite-field shot on a 2-2 fastball that sent the 41,237 in attendance -- the largest Marlins home crowd in two years -- into a frenzy. … “I felt like I was up there forever,” Buck said. “[And then] I thought I missed it, thought it would be a deep fly ball.”

• The Herald's Clark Spencer notes about NolascoFor his career, Nolasco is 15-16 with a 5.53 ERA in April and May. But, in the other months, he is 39-23 with a 3.92 ERA. “I don’t want that to be something that happens every year,’’ he said.

BIRTHDAYS: Hisanori Takahashi, who already has served up a homer to Kansas City's Jeff Francoeur this season after leaving for a two-year, $8 million deal with the Angels, turns 36. ... Al Weis, an infielder for the Mets from 1968 to '71, was born on this date in 1938 in Franklin Square, N.Y. ... Outfielder Mike Howard, who appeared in 48 games as a Met in the early '80s, was born in 1958.