Mets Notebook: Bannister's debut moved up

Mets Notebook for April 3 - It's Opening Day at Shea Stadium ... Brian Bannister tabbed to pitch in Wednesday's 'Opening Night' ... Carlos Delgado proves to be a big hit during the Mets' first-ever workout day ...

  • Appearing soon: When the Mets' 45th Opening Day gets underway just about 1:10 p.m. Monday, the first pitch will be thrown by Tom Glavine, not Pedro Martinez – disappointing for some fans, but certainly not new territory for Glavine, who has gone through the celebration of pitching the season's first game six times before (including twice with the Mets).

    The real surprise in the rotation is two days and one game ahead. With Victor Zambrano unable to pitch in the season's second game against Washington on Wednesday, the Mets will trot 25-year-old right-hander Brian Bannister to the mound for his Major League debut.

    That's quite a turnaround for a pitcher who couldn't even be sure a few weeks ago that he'd be in New York, not reporting to Triple-A Norfolk.

    "I just think they were happy with what I came in and did this spring," Bannister said. "I don't know if anybody expected what I could do. I'm just hoping to pitch well and hopefully contribute."

    As for Glavine, he admitted to feeling some butterflies in preparation for his start on Monday, but then qualified the comments by saying that he gets that sensation every time he pitches.

    "It's the first game of the year," Glavine said. "It's fun for everyone to be out there. It's a great experience. I'm certainly looking forward to it."

  • Last minute switch: When the action gets underway Monday, Darren Oliver – not Pedro Feliciano – will be in the Mets bullpen.

    The Mets had originally told Feliciano he had made the team, but decided on a last-minute switch to carry Oliver when the severity of Zambrano's left hamstring injury was assessed.

    Zambrano will now be pushed back to start Sunday against the Florida Marlins, with Oliver carried in case the Mets should need an innings-eater.

    Welcome to the city: The Mets drew more than 13,000 fans to Shea on Sunday to watch the roster go through batting practice drills – more people, one wiseguy remarked, than the team drew to some games last year.

    But under sunny skies and an afternoon perfect for baseball (if they'd been scheduled to play), some of the biggest cheers went to Carlos Delgado. The Mets' new cleanup hitter peppered the outfield with line drives all afternoon, including homering around the right-field foul pole and off the right-field scoreboard.

    Though Delgado said it would be nice if he could provide a signature moment to mark his arrival at Shea, the cleanup hitter said whatever the experience turns out to be, he plans to soak it up. "There's something about Opening Day," Delgado said. "The uniforms look a little whiter, the fans are fired up. I just want to enjoy it."

  • Coming up: The real deal. Glavine will make his third Opening Day start for the Mets on Monday, opposing Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez. Monday's National Anthem is scheduled to be performed by the cast of the Broadway show, 'Ring of Fire,' a Johnny Cash tribute.

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