Bannister, the son of former major league left-hander Floyd
Bannister, was a walk-on second baseman at USC before being converted
to a full-time pitcher his sophomore season. He was on the same staff
as the Cubs' Mark Prior.
"This is something I've been looking forward to for a long time,"
Bannister said. "I've been working very hard for this opportunity."
Bannister made the rotation as the fifth starter the last week of
spring training when the Mets decided they would be better off with
Aaron Heilman in the bullpen.
Bannister was to have started Sunday against Florida, but his start
was moved up because of Victor Zambrano's tight hamstring.
"I expect a good-pitched game from him," manager Willie Randolph
said. "He had a good spring for us, and I hope it continues. I expect
he'll pitch well and give us a chance to win."
CF Carlos Beltran was booed after going 0-for-4 in Monday's
Opening Day victory, but he redeemed himself when he threw out Jose Vidro at second base to end the game. Beltran is in the second year of
a $119 million contract.
Beltran, who was injured last season, said
throughout spring training he is more relaxed and insisted he's not
"The only thing I can do is continue to work hard, stay
healthy, and at the end of the year it's going to be a different
story," he said.
RF Xavier Nady made a big splash with four hits in his Mets debut
"It was pretty neat to be here and start out this way," Nady
said. "I just go out and play hard, and obviously you're not going to
get four hits every day."
RHP Pedro Martinez, bothered by a sore right big toe throughout
spring training, remains on target to start Thursday night against
LHP Billy Wagner spoke about sharing the same theme music --
Metallica's "Enter Sandman" -- to enter a game as Yankees RHP Mariano Rivera.
"I know, Mariano's got it," Wagner said. "Lord forbid, the
Earth should crumble if two people have it. I play for the Mets. He
plays for the Yankees. I never have to face him, and he never has to
face me. So there's really no big competition there."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1-for-28 -- OF Xavier Nady's slump late in spring
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously, spring training is not the best barometer
for how you base these guys but, you know, he was 0-for-20 or whatever
and he had a couple knocks, so that's why you don't put a lot of
emphasis on games like this because you can turn it around in one day."
-- Manager Willie Randolph on OF Xavier Nady snapping his slump with a