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Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Mets morning briefing 5.3.11

By Adam Rubin

After a 14-inning win during which the nation learned about the death of Osama bin Laden, then an off-day, the Mets return home to face the San Francisco Giants. Read the series preview here. Have a military ID? You may be able to go to the series opener for free. Read more here.

Tuesday's reports:

Johan Santana is throwing on flat ground at distances up to 150 feet and plans to step on a mound by next week. He wants to get up to 180 feet first. “I’m looking forward to that,” Santana tells the Post's Kevin Kernan. “I feel great. Obviously, I am not in the position where I can compete right now, but I’m right where I should be. As the medical staff has said, I’m way ahead of everything. I’m very pleased and happy with how everything is right now.”

On whether his return will coincide with the All-Star break in July, Santana said: “I don’t know. Believe me, I want to be there right now. I want to be there and help my team, but the reality is I can’t and I’m not going to do something stupid that jeopardizes everything that we are trying to accomplish here. I can’t think ahead two or three months or whatever. I’m focusing on today.”

• Newsday's David Lennon catches up with members of the 2001 team to reflect on their experiences being in New York a decade ago, during Sept. 11, including Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile and John Franco. Writes Lennon:

On Sunday, Ventura was just another fan at Stagecoach, a country music festival in Indio, Calif. Unlike Citizens Bank Park, however, the concert venue momentarily stopped to announce that bin Laden had been killed. "You're sitting there watching the concert, and the next thing you know, it's like, whoa," Ventura said Monday. "It was shocking. You hear that news, and all of a sudden, you're thinking geez, it's been 10 years. And you're shocked that they actually pulled it off." Instantly, Ventura was transported back to the 10 days that followed the collapse of the Twin Towers, leading up to the Sept. 21 game at Shea Stadium. ... "Any time I hear bagpipes," Ventura said, "that's where I immediately flash back to."

The Daily News catches up with Al Leiter and Edgardo Alfonzo, too, to discuss the Sept. 21, 2001 game. "It made me reflect on how quickly time has passed," Leiter told the newspaper. "We have the 10-year anniversary coming up, and I just can't believe it."

• ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, who was part of Sunday night's telecast, and who managed the Mets in 2001, tells Neil Best in Newsday: "Sometimes you get numb. Ten years ago in September, I was numb for a long time. When I got a text message that said bin Laden was no longer with us, I went numb again. It was a surreal feeling of going back 10 years, hearing 'U-S-A' being chanted and having a necktie on, thinking I had to talk about it. ... When I heard it was confirmed, I got choked up. [Producer] Tom Archer asked me how I was doing to get on and I didn't think I would be presentable."

Valentine lost a close friend in the Sept. 11 attacks. Writes Daily News columnist Bill Madden:

Five days later, when the Mets flew to Pittsburgh to resume the season, Valentine stayed behind to continue the work in the parking lot before joining the team the next day. As longtime Mets publicist Jay Horwitz remembered it, the relief effort was an outlet for Valentine to bear his grief for the loss of one of his best friends, Chris Quackenbush, the 44-year-old head of investment banking for the firm Sandler O'Neill & Partners, who was among those who leaped to their death rather than perish in the burning, falling towers. "It was therapeutic, I'm sure, for Bobby," Horwitz said.

• Top upper-level pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia appears headed for Tommy John surgery for a full medial collateral ligament tear, although he still plans to seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. That likely will sideline him until June 2012. Read quotes from Mejia and the full story here.

Dan Martin in the Post recalls pitching coach Dan Warthen's spring-training concerns about Mejia's max effort during his delivery. Warthen used that reasoning to ultimately project Mejia as a reliever. "I think Mejia works really hard to throw the baseball and I worry about the volume of pitches over the course of a year when you're throwing 30-35 starts and 100 pitches each start," Warthen had said in February. "... But I certainly am not gonna count him out as a starter."

Read more on Mejia in the JournalRecord, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Daily News.

Josh Thole has seven passed balls this year, already more than last year's four. "I don’t like struggling offensively, but everyone makes out,” Thole tells the Post. “When you’re catching, you’re the only guy chasing balls to the backstop. ... Sometimes the speed of the game gets me out of my rhythm and I don’t feel comfortable. Sometimes it gets into my mind and my glove gets hard and I just have to relax. That’s the only way to fix it. But when you botch two balls in a row, it’s hard to get back to that.”

• The Post says Terry Collins still is getting positive reviews in the clubhouse. "We know he's gonna be around us in the clubhouse every day," Jose Reyes tells Martin. "He talks to you all the time. You want to play extra hard for that guy. Just the energy he has is incredible. ... I'm used to having different kinds of managers, not like this. I've never had anything like this before. I love playing for him. His intensity and enthusiasm are great. I just wish we could play better for him."

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger looks at Ike Davis' progress in Year 2. Writes McCullough:

The team would be delighted if he sustains his pace thus far. Entering tonight’s series opener against San Francisco, he leads the team in batting average (.317), on-base percentage (.398), slugging percentage (.564) and RBI (20). He and [David] Wright are tied for the team lead in home runs (five). You can still poke holes in his game. One of every four at-bats ends with a strikeout. His .365 batting average on balls in play is 40 points higher than last year, which suggests he will cool down. He stumbled through a 1-for-13 stretch against Philadelphia this past weekend. But to his teammates and coaches, he appears a more mature hitter in 2011.

BIRTHDAY: Original Met Chris Cannizzaro turns 73. Cannizzaro’s strength was his defense. credits him with only 56 stolen bases allowed in 127 attempts, a rate that would make Yadier Molina envious. -Mark Simon