WASHINGTON — Opening Day finally will happen for the Mets on Monday — for real this time, they think — but it will feel a little less like Opening Day than normal.
Because the Phillies will be playing in their fourth game of the season, all at home, the Mets won’t get the usual Opening Day-style pregame introductions and festivities.
"They’re not going to call us to the [third-base] line," manager Luis Rojas said. "We’re going to miss that from the first game of the season perspective. We’ll get that in Citi Field [for the home opener on Thursday], knock on wood, by God. But the excitement will be there. The guys will show up and have as much fun as we were going to have on Thursday."
That is OK by Michael Conforto.
"Nothing is going to take away from those first-game jitters that you have every year," he said. "Really, in the grand scheme of things, especially when you’re on the away side, it just kind of gets in the way of your routine to get ready for a game. I think it’ll be special to have it at home, welcoming fans back."
The Mets escaped preseason purgatory Sunday afternoon, completing one last workout at Nationals Park before busing to Philadelphia. Their three-game series against the Nationals was postponed because four Nationals players tested positive for COVID-19 and seven others had to quarantine as a result.
Now, four days later than they expected, they are onto the regular season.
"These guys are like caged animals right now," Rojas said. "They just want to get in there and compete."
The benefit of waiting: Instead of facing Washington ace Max Scherzer, the Mets draw Phillies lefthander Matt Moore, who pitched in Japan last year and has a 5.09 ERA in his past four major-league seasons.
Righthander Carlos Carrasco threw two simulated innings (30 pitches) in Port St. Lucie on Sunday, Rojas said, a significant step in his recovery from a torn right hamstring.
He was able to throw all of his pitches but has not fielded his position, Rojas added.
The Mets have been encouraged by Carrasco’s progress. They initially expected him to miss six to eight weeks. This week marks three since the injury.
"You can be optimistic about how rather sooner than later he can be with us, but we’ve still got to wait and see how he keeps responding," Rojas said. "The stage where he gets to fielding his position, covering first and things like that, pushing off that back leg [is important]."
Since the Mets will see a lefthander for their Opening Day, Rojas didn’t commit to Brandon Nimmo as the leadoff hitter, also mentioning Jeff McNeil and Kevin Pillar . . . All of the Mets’ starters except Joey Lucchesi (90-100) are good for 100-plus pitches in their first game, despite the layoff from spring training, Rojas said . . . Mets owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson will hold a season-opening video news conference at noon Monday.
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