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Mets finally ready to welcome back fans to Citi Field for 'special day'

Mets manager Luis Rojas said he would not

Mets manager Luis Rojas said he would not be in the dugout because he had to take care of "some personal stuff," and would be back for Saturday's spring training game. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PHILADELPHIA — Eighteen months later, fans will return to Citi Field on Thursday.

The Mets will host up to 8,492 of them — 20% of normal capacity, per New York’s pandemic rules — when they host the Marlins in their home opener. The game is sold out, season-ticket holders having received priority access.

"I can't share enough my excitement," manager Luis Rojas said. "It's going to be special for the whole group I think. We've been looking forward to this moment for a while now."

Taijuan Walker added: "It’s definitely going to be a special day."


It potentially will be extra special for Walker, who will get the start — his Mets debut. He only pitched in one game in 2019 and three games in 2018, too, so he hasn’t regularly pitched with fans in the stands since four years ago.

"Obviously, emotions are going to be high," he said, "I’m excited, I’m nervous, but I think it’s going to be good."

Amid the chaos of the Mets’ early-season schedule, Walker has been the only pitcher who has continued to throw every five days like normal. He pitched in the team’s final spring-training game, then a scrimmage Saturday at Nationals Park.

Now, the home opener, with an audience.

"I definitely was lucky I was able to do that," Walker said. "It definitely helped and kept my stuff sharp."

Negative is positive

J.D. Davis’ additional X-rays on Wednesday were negative, just like the first round. His left hand is bruised but not broken.

"He’s a little swelled up," Rojas said Wednesday before the tests. "Because of the number of bones in the hands, they want to make sure everything is clean and there’s no small line missing or anything like that."

Davis, who was hit by a pitch Tuesday and did not play Wednesday, is considered day-to-day. He said there has been no talk of a stay on the injured list.

Making up

MLB announced Wednesday that the Mets-Nationals series from last week, postponed because of the Nationals’ coronavirus outbreak, will be made up in three parts, all at Nationals Park.

It’ll be:

* game one on June 19, which is now a split doubleheader.

* game two on June 28, which had been a mutual off day.

* game three on Sept. 4, which is now a split doubleheader (and a five-game series).

"It’s definitely not ideal," Michael Conforto said. "We’re definitely not happy to lose an off day and have to travel out there, but those are things that are out of our control. We gotta get those games in."

Missing McNeil

There isn’t anything wrong with Jeff McNeil, Rojas said, but he was on the bench Wednesday because Rojas wanted to play Jonathan Villar.

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