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Mets excited about Monday opener at new $800 million Citi Field

The New York Mets take the field for an exhibition game against Boston on April 4at Citi Field in New York. The stadium will host its first NL game Monday.

The New York Mets take the field for an exhibition game against Boston on April 4at Citi Field in New York. The stadium will host its first NL game Monday.

MIAMI – On his first visit to Citi Field, New York Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey was happy to see the high outfield wall and 415-foot sign in deep right-center.

He figures the spacious dimensions will look especially appealing when he stands on the mound Monday night to throw the first pitch against the San Diego Padres as the Mets open their sparkling new ballpark.

“I might as well just throw the ball down the middle and let them hit it,” Pelfrey said. “They might have to hit it twice just to get it out of there. It’s definitely a big park. It definitely seems that way.”

While the early consensus is that Citi Field will be pitcher-friendly, the Mets figure it will take much of the season to fully assess their new home. The $800 million ballpark with 41,800 seats replaces Shea Stadium, the team’s home since 1964. The Mets played in the old Polo Grounds during their first two seasons, 1962-63.

The club went 3-3 on a season-opening trip that ended Sunday with a 2-1 loss at Florida.

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver will throw out the first pitch to ex-Mets catcher Mike Piazza, and the Broadway cast of “West Side Story” will perform the national anthem. The game will be televised in Rockefeller Center and Times Square, and the Empire State Building will be lit in the Mets’ orange and blue colors.

Pelfrey, who went 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA last year in his first full major league season, will pitch in the brightest spotlight of his career.

“I imagine it’s going to be kind of like a playoff atmosphere with all of the fans there and the excitement,” he said Sunday. “I don’t want to get too amped up and start overthrowing and get away from executing pitches. I’m going into it like it’s going to be another start, but the reality is that it’s going to be an awesome time.”

Cubs’ Soto almost back

MILWAUKEE – The Chicago Cubs got some welcome good news about the ailing right shoulder of catcher Geovany Soto on Sunday, and now expect him to return to the lineup Wednesday. Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Soto could be available as a pinch runner or pinch hitter earlier, but only in an emergency.

“He’s ready to go, basically,” Piniella said before Sunday’s series finale in Milwaukee. “(Monday), if we need him, we can use him. . . . But he’s feeling really, really good and it’s good news for us, obviously.”

Rays’ Upton ready to go

BALTIMORE – The Tampa Bay Rays made room for center fielder B.J. Upton to rejoin the team by optioning outfielder Matt Joyce to Triple-A Durham on Sunday.

Upton is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list for Monday’s home opener against the New York Yankees. He was placed on the disabled list on April 5, retroactive to March 27. Upton had offseason surgery on his left shoulder.

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