Strawberry a hit in front of Citi Field faithful

Strawberry a hit in front of Citi Field faithful

NEW YORK -- The loudest reception in pregame introductions was prompted by the mention, by emcee Howie Rose, of Johan Santana, who was warming up in the bullpen. David Wright, Frankie Rodriguez, Howard Johnson -- a tad surprising, perhaps -- and Jason Bay were embraced by more folks than anyone other than Santana, until Darryl Strawberry walked to the mound, or the area in front of the mound. His duty was to throw out the first pitch, which he did -- sort of.

An hour after explaining, "I don't throw anymore. I have to cheat," Strawberry proved it. From 55 feet, he easily reached ceremonial catcher HoJo with a the kind of pitch he wouldn't have liked -- high and tight to a lefty hitter. But the pitch was thrown at the speed of a Livan Hernandez changeup.

Strawberry, dressed to the nines as always, except for the uniform top he wore -- 18 is a multiple of nine -- seemed to revel in his new role as senior statesman.

The loudest jeers, not surprisingly, were for Oliver Perez and -- more good-naturedly -- Mets trainers Ray Ramirez and Mike Herbst.