Glavine begins Mets' quest for crown

Glavine begins Mets' quest for crown

Even though an official announcement wasn't forthcoming until a week before the Mets' first game, Tom Glavine has been their Opening Night starter for months. The assignment was a certainty the day Pedro Martinez's shoulder was cut and underscored as that the day Barry Zito moved to the other side of San Francisco Bay.

Some aspects of the start Glavine makes in St. Louis on Sunday night are undefined because so little is certain about his future. His 300th victory hangs out there as a seductive carrot. Another shot at a World Series ring does, too. No one, not even Glavine, can say he will retire after the 2007 season. He's being pulled in about 300 different directions as the 2007 season begins. So we're not even sure what Glavine is doing Sunday night against the Cardinals.

We do know this: He is the Mets' Opening Night starting pitcher. The first-game assignment is the eighth of his career. It could very well be the last of his career. And if it is, someday he can mark it off as the first of many lasts he will have experienced in his final season.

So it may be his last first. Or it could be his first last.

Welcome to the Confusion Corner. Everywhere Glavine turns there are questions and unknowns. Answers are in short supply.

"I'm not sweating it. I'm not even approaching it as a possible last time," he said Tuesday. "I don't want to start counting anything. In my mind, I haven't come to a decision yet. I'll take it a game at a time and see what I remember when the time comes."

opening day 2007

Chances are he won't recall that much. The start Sunday will be the 636th of his career. Only 14 pitchers in history have made more. One start blurs into another after a while. Glavine knows he started for the Braves on Opening Day, 1990. He recalls little else about the 8-0 Giants victory. And even the details of the three Opening Day starts he has made with the Mets mingle with images of other games.

Memories or not, he knows "Opening Day is special" -- to players and fans alike. "It's a cool thing for everyone in the ballpark."

In the case of the 2007 season, it's special and important. "You want to get going as a team and as a pitcher," Glavine says. "When you don't, it can weigh on you."

  Mets probable lineup
 Pos.Name
1.SSJose Reyes
2.CPaul Lo Duca
3.CFCarlos Beltran
4.1BCarlos Delgado
5.3BDavid Wright
6.LFMoises Alou
7.RFShawn Green
8.2BJose Valentin
9.PTom Glavine

The Mets overcame inertia almost immediately last season. They won eight of their first nine games, 21 of their first 30. It began with a 2-1 victory against the Nationals at Shea Stadium. Glavine was the winning pitcher. He is 4-3 as an Opening Day pitcher. His record with the Mets in opening games is 2-1.

"I feel it in my stomach before every start," he says. "Opening Day is the same in that way. But you know everyone's watching because baseball is back. And everyone has hopes. But I want to win every game. But you can't win them [all] unless you win the first one."

Pitching matchup
NYM: LHP Tom Glavine (15-7, 3.82 ERA in 2006)
Glavine's ERA in April is 2.73. Only in October does he have a lower monthly ERA.

STL: RHP Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09 ERA in 2006)
Carpenter has a 1-2 record in three career starts against the Mets. He hasn't faced them since September 2005.

Players to watch
Moises Alou, a notoriously unproductive hitter in Spring Training, has a .330 average in April. He batted .360 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs with the Giants last April.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• ESPN

On radio
• WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Espanol)

Up next
• Tuesday: Mets (RHP Orlando Hernandez, 11-11, 4.66) at Cardinals (RHP Kip Wells, 2-5, 6.50), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Mets (RHP John Maine, 6-5, 3.60) at Cardinals (RHP Braden Looper, 9-3, 3.56), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Mets (LHP Oliver Perez, 3-13, 6.55) at Braves (LHP Mark Redman, 11-10, 5.71), 7:35 p.m. ET

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.