General Manager Sandy Alderson, with gray suit, is seen being...

General Manager Sandy Alderson, with gray suit, is seen being interviewed during a Q&A session with Ed Randall, founder and CEO of Ed Randall's Fans For The Cure Charity, at Fordham University's Leon Lowenstein Building. (Feb. 1, 2011) Credit: Jennifer S. Altman

WASHINGTON -- Last season, the Mets' visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center became a source of contention between ownership and three players who skipped the non-mandatory trip: Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

Tuesday, however, with the Mets returning to the military hospital for their annual outing with the wounded soldiers, a sense of perspective was restored. The team had 42 members of its traveling party make the trip, and the only two no-shows, Francisco Rodriguez and Taylor Buchholz, were excused because of an extended stay with their families.

This year's visit also was presided over by general manager Sandy Alderson, a former Marine who served off and on as a platoon commander in Vietnam from 1970-71.

"I'm able to maybe empathize with them a little more having had some common experience, [though] it's not obviously the ones that ultimately put them in the hospital," Alderson said. "That just contributes to the conversation and the ability to talk comfortably, but I think everybody was equally impacted.

"I thought it was meaningful for all of us, but I certainly was taken by the spirit that the wounded soldiers and Marines exhibited, and the support that they're getting from the hospital staff. Hearing their stories about how these injuries occurred was pretty sobering."

Paulino for Philly?

Alderson said the Mets plan to have Ronny Paulino back for the upcoming weekend series in Philadelphia after he caught nine innings for Triple-A Buffalo. Paulino went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

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Paulino will DH tonight and then catch again Thursday night before joining the team Friday night in Philadelphia.