PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For the better part of three months, Terry Collins has been scratching out notes and scribbling down ideas, composing his inaugural address to the Mets.
He finally revealed the sum of his work Monday, addressing the team prior to the first day of full-squad workouts at Digital Domain Park.
"You stand up in that room this morning and you've got 56 or 58 of the best players in the world sitting in front of you," Collins said. "You know they belong to you. They're your team. It's something I've been wanting to do my whole life, to try to get them better and try to get them to the ultimate game. It's just so fun. It's amazing."
Early reviews of the morning were positive. For most Mets players, it marked their first exposure to a motivational tactic that Collins jokingly classified as "more Patton" than Lincoln, referring to the famous World War II general. Collins' predecessor, Jerry Manuel, rarely felt the need to address his team in a group setting.
"That intensity and that passion just kind of rubs off on the players," third baseman David Wright said.
For Collins, the speech represented the climax to months of anxious waiting, from the time he accepted the job in November to his fledgling days with the team on the field.
"Today was the most fun I've had in 12 years being out there," Collins said. "I loved it. And I owe it to the way they went about their jobs."
Beltran out for first week of Grapefruit games
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets plan to hold outfielder Carlos Beltran out of the first week of Grapefruit League games for precautionary reasons, manager Terry Collins said Monday.
Beltran is in the middle of a seven- to 10-day running program that will help him assess whether or not his oft-injured knees are strong enough to allow him to play center field. Until the Mets are certain of his status, they don't want to risk using him in games. To be clear, this is not an injury or a setback -- merely a precaution.
"He's going to tell me when he's ready," Collins said.
The Mets begin their Grapefruit League schedule Saturday against the Braves.
Castillo's status uncertain due to brother
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Luis Castillo's brother, Julio Cesar, underwent surgery Monday in the Dominican Republic, leaving the Mets second baseman unsure whether he will stay in Florida or make a trip home.
Castillo preferred to keep the nature of his brother's condition private, referring to it only as "serious." At one point during Monday's workout, he rode off the field in a golf cart in order to head to the clubhouse, call home and return to the field in quick order.
Warthen keeps cam close at hand
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pitching coach Dan Warthen is continuing the practice of recording high-definition video with a Flip cam this spring, an exercise that proved successful last season.
Standing behind the cage during live batting practice Monday, Warthen filmed the mechanics of his pitchers with his pocket video camera, a gift from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. He will film all his pitchers this week, review the video, then film them again next week and compare the two tapes.
Using that process last season, Warthen was able to detect a flaw in Jon Niese's delivery and a discrepancy in Mike Pelfrey's approach, which was causing Pelfrey to tip pitches.
"It's a nice little tool," Warthen said. "Now I have a little bit of a barometer."
Mets pitchers have edge early on
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For most offensive players, live batting practice is a chore, a drill used to help pitchers work on their control while hitters take feeble or half-hearted swings. The axiom that "pitchers are ahead of hitters" this time of year almost always holds true.
So imagine how Jason Pridie, Brad Emaus, Luis Hernandez and Zach Lutz felt Monday, stepping in against R.A. Dickey and his midseason knuckleballs. Earlier Monday, Dickey had requested to face David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay; rather than accommodate him and quite possibly incite a clubhouse riot, Collins opted to match Dickey against a group of Minor Leaguers.
"That's a nasty knuckleball," Pridie said. "You see it and it just freezes you."
Also throwing live batting practice Monday was Oliver Perez, who, by most accounts, displayed improved velocity on his fastball and improved break on his changeup.
Perhaps the day's big winner, however, was light-hitting Ruben Tejada, who surprised all onlookers by launching a home run off starter Mike Pelfrey.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright won't reveal his secrets. The morning after scorching his teammates by bowling a 259 on the team's first weekly bonding exercise, Wright would not reveal when or how he learned to bowl. "I'm just an athlete," Wright said, grinning. "Athletes adapt to their situations." The Mets plan to bowl weekly this spring in an attempt to foster team unity. ... The Mets on Monday made several Minor League coaching assignments official, naming Dave Jauss their coordinator of staff development, Brian Chicklo their medical coordinator, Tick Tomlin their roving pitching instructor, Mark Brewers their short-season roving pitching instructor, Jack Voigt their outfield/baserunning coordinator and Randy Niemann their rehabilitation pitching coordinator. Jauss and Niemann served on last year's big league staff as bench coach and bullpen coach, respectively.