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A message from Willie


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Our team is ready to go. That's the message I want to send to you Mets fans as we prepare for today's opener in South Florida. The goal this year is to make our final season at Shea something special and I think we can.


We've had a great spring. Our batting order certainly can produce runs. Jose Reyes has been spectacular in the field and on the bases. Carlos Beltran has recovered from his off-season knee surgeries and has been diving for balls in the outfield, while Luis Castillo is back to normal after his knee operation. I look for David Wright to once again play at his All-Star pace and we expect Carlos Delgado to have a bounce-back year. Brian Schneider adds a good defensive presence for us behind the plate, while I look for Ryan Church to play a solid rightfield.


Our line-up is intact except for Moses Alou, who should be back in late April or early May. Guys like Endy Chavez, Damion Easley and Angel Pagan can fill in for Moises until he returns. You need to have a solid bench to win and we certainly do.


Our pitching has been great all spring. The addition of Johan Santana makes our staff better from top to bottom. Pedro Martinez is healthy and hasn't missed a beat, while John Maine and Oliver Perez, who each won 15 games for us a year ago, are perhaps two of the young star pitchers in the major leagues.


The bullpen will once again be anchored by Billy Wagner, one of the best closers in the game. Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Schoeneweis, Matt Wise and Jorge Sosa all can perform in a variety of roles for us.


Orlando Hernandez, Duaner Sanchez and Ramon Castro will start the season on the Disabled List, but should be ready to go not too far into the season.


With Orlando Hernandez on the Disabled List, Mike Pelfrey will pitch this Saturday against Atlanta. He deserves the chance.


In closing I want to say one more thing. We all hated the way last year ended for us. For 98 percent of the season we were the best team in our division, but we let it slip away. When I spoke to the team this spring I didn't look backwards that much, I tried to look forward so we can all learn from what happened. The lesson is simple: don't take anything for granted and don't expect things to happen just because you think they will.


The season is here. It's time to make it happen.


Hope to see you back at Shea in April.



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