PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, addressed the Mets on Tuesday and afterward spoke publicly about issues involving the Mets, including Francisco Rodriguez's contract and the $17.5 million vesting option, which would be triggered by his finishing 55 games this season.

The question of if the club would limit Rodriguez's use to avoid having to play him for the 2012 season has been raised this spring. Manager Terry Collins has previously said he would not let that factor into his managerial decisions.

Said Weiner: "I have every expectation that the Mets are going to honor both the Basic Agreement and Frankie's contract. There is arbitration precedent that deals with that. It essentially says that a club's decisions for using a player have to be motivated by trying to win. There is arbitration precedent that makes clear that a team cannot sit a player down or decline to use him in order to prevent him from earning a bonus or having a year vest."

And about the Wilpon-Madoff matter, which the club has consistently said will not affect baseball operations, Weiner said: "We want to make sure all contractual obligations are honored, and we've been assured by the Commissioner's Office that that is the case. So there is no concern there.

"As far as broader questions ... Look, it's in the interests of everybody associated with baseball that the National League franchise in New York be a strong franchise. The Wilpons have always attempted to field competitive teams during their tenure, and we certainly hope they're in a position to do that.

"The key to a strong player market is having a number of different clubs out there competing for players. We know that in any given year, you're not going to have 30 clubs out there competing for players. That's just not the way it is. ... Whether it's the Mets, whether it's the Dodgers, whether it's frankly the Twins, the Tigers or any club ... if there is something that's going to prevent them from participating as they normally would in whatever cycle that would be in bidding for players, that's a concern for us.

"At this point, we have been assured through the Commissioner's Office that the Mets are going to be able to operate as they have."

Beltran to DH until at least March 10

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets manager Terry Collins said he intends to use Carlos Beltran as a designated hitter at least until March 10. The Mets will have played 13 exhibition games by then. That plan will leave Beltran 2 1/2 weeks to prepare his legs for the grind of the regular season.

Dickey misses out on Koufax's advice

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The knuckleball that has made R.A. Dickey financially secure has made him poorer in one regard. Dickey was delighted to meet Sandy Koufax on Saturday.

As the first player re-assigned to the Minor League camp last spring, Dickey was gone before Koufax made what is now an annual appearance at the Mets' facility. But this time, they shared a greeting, a handshake and a few cordial words.

Later, though, when the pitchers were throwing, Dickey noticed Koufax had something to say -- presumably advice for royalty -- to each of the others, but nothing for him.

"It was surreal to have a pitcher as great as he was here and then not have him helping me, just everyone else," Dickey said.

Isringhausen, Bay talk numbers game

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jason Isringhausen always has worn No. 44, a number he chose when the Mets selected him in the 44th round of the 1991 First-Year Player Draft. His high school buddy, Shaun Watson, the player the Mets had planned to scout when they discovered Isringhausen, wore 44, as well. But now, the pitcher is No. 45. Jason Bay is wearing 44.

Bay isn't so partial to the double digit and told Isringhausen as much.

"If I make the team, we'll talk about it," Isringhausen said.

Worth noting

Not a bead of New York Knicks sweat had yet formed on the forehead of Carmelo Anthony on Tuesday morning when David Wright bopped into camp wearing a Knicks T-shirt. The Mets' third baseman assured an inquirer that he hadn't injured himself jumping headlong onto the newest basketball bandwagon after the Knicks' trade for the former Nuggets star. Wright claims he purchased the shirt recently when he was ordering Giants apparel, "just in case." ... Bobby Ojeda, the former Mets pitcher-turned pre- and postgame analyst for SNY, is here early and enjoying camp. "I love this place, whatever they call it now," Ojeda said of Digital Domain Park. "Shea's gone. This is what I have now. I took ground balls on that field. I pitched over there. ... This is what I have now. And I love this place.