PHILADELPHIA -- Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, an original Mets announcer and a fixture in the team's broadcast booth over the last five decades, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's home opener at Citi Field.
Kiner, who still regularly participates in the team's SNY broadcasts at Citi Field, is entering his 50th season as a Mets broadcaster.
Citi Field's pregame ceremony will also include a presentation of 140 veterans representing all five branches of the U.S. military.
Reyes, Pagan have chemistry on the bases
PHILADELPHIA -- Jose Reyes led off second base, staring down the Phillies' Cole Hamels. Angel Pagan ventured off first, one eye on Reyes.
No sign came from the Mets' bench or third-base coach. None was needed. Reyes and Pagan exchanged their own communication, a mix of pregame conversation and subtle physical tics. And off they both went, executing a perfect double steal in the first inning Tuesday.
"We do have some sort of communication on the bases that only me and him know," Pagan said. "It goes by instincts. He understands me. I understand him."
"He's always going to be watching me," Reyes said.
Yet the communication between the two is not always subtle -- nor does it have to be. Prior to Tuesday's game, Reyes and Pagan talked specifically about Hamels, who has a notoriously slow delivery to home plate. They discussed running at every opportunity. So after both men reached base off Hamels in the top of the first, Pagan looked at Reyes and mouthed the word "go" as he took his lead.
Reyes took the hint.
"I don't care if they pay attention or not, because the guy's slow to home plate," Reyes said. "I'm going."
Many managers would be uncomfortable with his players executing a double-steal with no outs in the first inning, but Terry Collins encourages the aggressiveness. Such is the benefit of having Reyes and Pagan -- two speedsters with chemistry -- sitting together at the top of the lineup. Each man understands the other's strengths, tailoring his own strategy around them.
Pagan, for example, will purposely take an extra strike when Reyes is on base, sacrificing a favorable count in order to give his teammate extra opportunities to run. When he bats sixth or fifth, as he did in Wednesday's game, Pagan typically sees more breaking balls and looks to swing earlier in the count.
"I like him behind me," Reyes said. "If I don't get on base, he gets on base. He's another leadoff hitter."
Numbers aside, Beltran is a presence in lineup
PHILADELPHIA -- Though Carlos Beltran stumbled out to a .143 start with just one extra-base hit over his first four games, Mets manager Terry Collins believes Beltran has still made his presence felt.
Forget Beltran's slow start. The fact that David Wright was batting .412 in front of him with a home run and a double, Collins says, is no coincidence.
"I thought about the lineup when I got the job, and I thought when Carlos Beltran hits behind him, they've got to pitch to David," Collins said. "They've got to give him something to hit."
In the one game last weekend that Beltran did not start, Wright finished 0-for-3. Such sample sizes may be small, but Collins has nonetheless noticed a pattern in the way pitchers have attacked Wright -- and in the way Wright has capitalized on it.
"What he has done is he's been selective enough to get a good ball to hit, and he's done damage with it," Collins said. "He's an outstanding offensive player. That's why I hit him third."
Despite Beltran's potential benefits to Wright, Collins still plans to sit his right fielder in Thursday's finale against Roy Halladay. By giving Beltran regular rest, the manager feels, he can keep him fresh and soften the wear and tear on his knees.
"Carlos and I talk every day," Collins said. "It started in Spring Training, and I said this open line of communication will continue for the next 182 days. I want to make sure we're on the same page each and every day."
Frankie needs more time to warm up in cold
PHILADELPHIA -- Because Francisco Rodriguez entered Wednesday with only one appearance over the past week, the Mets were eager to insert their closer into a game.
Rodriguez was hoping only for a little advance notice.
Temperatures in Philadelphia were expected to dip into the 40s for a second straight night on Wednesday, requiring Rodriguez and other relievers to spend more time warming their arms, supplementing regular routines with additional exercises.
"When it's windy, you have to start slow," Rodriguez said. "That's the only difference. But as far as pitching, it's the same."
Though Rodriguez doesn't change the way he pitches in cold weather, the cool temperatures do affect his grip on the ball.
"Sometimes when it's windy, you lose the feel of it," he said. "You lose your grip on the seams. The tips of your fingers are numb."