By John Schweibacher
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The New York Mets begin the 2014 regular season Monday afternoon against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
The Mets have won 34 of their last 44 Opening Day games, including seven of their last eight. It will be the fourth time the Mets will play their season opener at Citi Field, having won all three previous times; 11-2 vs. the Padres last year, 1-0 against the Braves in 2012 and 7-1 over the Marlins in 2010.
The Mets are 20-2 in their last 22 season openers at home. Since 1969, the only two losses the Mets have suffered at home to begin the season came against the Chicago Cubs, 15-2, in 2003 and against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 12-3, in 1990.
The Nationals have been the Mets’ Opening Day opponent just one previous time, a 3-2 Mets win back in 2006. The Nats’ predecessors, the Montreal Expos, faced the Mets four times in season openers at Shea Stadium, winning just once, 11-10, in their inaugural game back in 1969.
Terry Collins will be managing his fourth opening day with the Mets. The last Mets skipper to begin four straight seasons was Willie Randolph from 2005 through 2008. Davey Johnson (seven seasons: 1984-1990) and Bobby Valentine (six seasons: 1997-2002) are the only two Mets managers to be at the helm for more than four Opening Day games.
Collins’ lineup for the opener figures to have a mix of players who have been in a number of Opening Day games for the Mets, as well as players who will be playing in their first.
Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud will be the sixth different Opening Day catcher for the Mets since Mike Piazza last caught an opener for the club in 2005, succeeding John Buck (2013), Josh Thole (2011-12), Rod Barajas (2010), Brian Schneider (2008-09) and Paul Lo Duca (2006-07). The Mets had only six Opening Day catchers from 1985 through 2005; Gary Carter (1985-89), Barry Lyons (1990), Charlie O’Brien (1991), Todd Hundley (1992-1997), Tim Spehr (1998) and Piazza (1999-05).
First Base: Ike Davis has been the Mets’ Opening Day first baseman each of the last three seasons, and he’ll start again on Monday. Carlos Delgado was the last Mets first baseman to start four straight openers (2006-09). Keith Hernandez is the only Mets first baseman to start more than four consecutive openers, starting six straight from 1984 through 1989.
Second Base: Daniel Murphy was scheduled to make his third straight Opening Day start at second base for the Mets, but he’ll be held out of the lineup due to the birth of his child. Felix Millan is the only player in club history to make more than three consecutive starts at second on Opening Day, having started five in a row for the Mets from 1973 through 1977.
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada has been the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop in each of the last two seasons. Four Mets have started four-or-more consecutive Opening Day games at short; Bud Harrelson (11), Rey Ordonez (7), Jose Reyes (6) and Kevin Elster (4).
Third Base: Mets captain David Wright will be making his 10th straight Opening Day start at third base. Only four other players in club history have started nine-or-more openers overall for the Mets, and only two of them have participated in more Opening Day wins:
• Tom Seaver: 11 (8-3)
• Bud Harrelson: 11 (7-4)
• Jerry Grote: 9 (5-4)
• Howard Johnson: 9 (8-1)
• David Wright: 9 (7-2)
Left Field: Lucas Duda was the Mets’ opening day left fielder last season. The Mets will have their eighth different player in the last nine years starting in left this year. Jason Bay, who got the Opening Day assignments there in 2010 and 2012, is the only Met to start in left more than once on Opening Day since 2006.
Center Field: The Mets will have their fifth different opening day center fielder in five seasons. Carlos Beltran made five straight Opening Day starts from 2005 through 2009. Gary Matthews, Jr., Angel Pagan, Andres Torres and Collin Cowgill have made the last four Opening Day starts for the Mets in center field.
Right Field: The Mets will begin the season with a new right fielder for the sixth straight time, as free-agent signing Curtis Granderson takes over the position. Marlon Byrd (2013), Lucas Duda (2012), Carlos Beltran (2011) and Jeff Francoeur (2010) have each started in right since Ryan Church played back-to-back openers in 2008 and 2009. No Mets player has made three-or-more Opening Day starts in a row in right field since Darryl Strawberry appeared in seven straight from 1984 through 1990.
Pitcher: Dillon Gee gets the ball for the Mets on Opening Day, the fourth different starter for the Mets in their opener in the last four seasons, joining Jon Niese (2013), Johan Santana (2012) and Mike Pelfrey (2011). The last time the Mets went four straight years with four different Opening Day starting pitchers was from 1997 through 2000 with Pete Harnisch, Bobby Jones, Al Leiter and Mike Hampton.
Six different Mets pitchers started on Opening Day from 1980 through 1985; Craig Swan, Pat Zachry, Randy Jones, Tom Seaver, Mike Torrez and Dwight Gooden.
Outfielder Chris Young, who the Mets signed as a free agent this winter, was scheduled to make his Mets’ debut Monday. He’ll sit out, however, with a quad injury. Young shares the same name with former Mets pitcher Chris Young, who appeared in 24 games for New York in 2011 and 2012.
Here is a list of the unrelated players in Mets history who were known by the same first and last names:
• Bob “Lefty” Miller, LHP: (1962)
Bob “Righty” Miller, RHP: (1962, 1973-74)
• Bobby J. Jones, RHP: (1993-2000)
Bobby M. Jones, LHP: (2000, 2002)
• Bob W. Johnson, IF: (1967)
Bob D. Johnson, RHP: (1969)
• Mike G. Marshall, RHP: (1981)
Mike A. Marshall, 1B/OF: (1990)
• Pedro A. Martinez, LHP: (1996)
Pedro J. Martinez, RHP: (2005-08)
• Chris R. Young, RHP: (2011-12)
Chris B. Young, OF: (2014- )
Granderson will become the 118th player to play for both the Mets and Yankees when he makes his Mets’ debut Monday. Granderson will be the 11th player to appear in the starting lineup on Opening Day for both clubs, something only two players have done more than once for each team:
Player Mets Opener(s) Yankees Opener(s)
• Charlie Smith 1965 1967
• Tim Foli 1978 1984
• Rafael Santana 1985-87 1988
• Willie Randolph 1992 1976-88
• Tony Fernandez 1993 1995
• David Cone 1992 1996-97
• Darryl Strawberry 1984-90 1997
• Rickey Henderson 1999-00 1986-89
• Robin Ventura 1999-01 2002-03
• Xavier Nady 2006 2009
• Curtis Granderson 2014 2010-12
Schwei’s Runs, Hits and Errors: Remembering Ralph Kiner — No one in Mets history witnessed more runs, hits and errors than Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who passed away on February 6. The Mets will celebrate the life and legacy of their legendary broadcaster during an on-field, pregame ceremony on Opening Day at Citi Field. The ceremony will include a video tribute and the unveiling of the Kiner commemorative logo above the left-field wall. The Kiner logo will also be painted on the grass behind home plate.
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