Mets morning briefing 4.6.12

Following the Mets’ 1-0 victory over Atlanta in front of the largest crowd ever to see a game at Citi Field on Thursday, GM Sandy Alderson tweeted, “Winning on Opening Day, with a day off to follow, is baseball nirvana!”

The Mets won’t play on Friday, which gives them plenty of time to savor their 33rd Opening Day win in franchise history against 18 losses -- the best record of any team in Major League Baseball history.

Friday’s news reports:

Johan Santana’s first major league start in 582 days went quite well. The veteran left-hander, who hadn’t been on the mound in a regular season game since Sept. 2, 2010, struck out five over five scoreless innings, but ended up with a no-decision. Santana had been out after undergoing shoulder surgery. Here’s our Mets beat writer Adam Rubin’s column.

Read more in the Star-Ledger , Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and Times.

Andres Torres’ debut with the Mets didn’t go so well. The ex-Giants center fielder walked and scored New York’s only run of the game, but was picked off at first and also re-aggravated his left calf strain while trying to snag a shot in the seventh. Torres confirmed he will be headed to the DL. Ruben Tejada will take his leadoff spot.

Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

• As a result of the Torres injury, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is expected to be called up and make his MLB debut over the weekend, a team source told Rubin.

• The Mets paid tribute to Gary Carter, their Hall of Fame catcher who died at age 57 on Feb. 16 following a 10-month battle with brain cancer. The Mets will wear jersey patches featuring Carter’s No. 8 for the rest of the season. Darryl Strawberry and Mookie Wilson were saddened by The Kid’s passing, and reflected on their former teammate’s impact on their lives before the game.

Read more about Carter in the Daily News.

• Infamous Mets’ killer Chipper Jones is on the verge of retiring, but Mets fans haven’t forgotten how much damage he’s inflicted on their team. Jones was booed hastily during pregame introductions. No word if his son “Shea” was watching. Nevertheless, Jones thinks David Wright should be a Met for life.

"I think David Wright is a shining star and if you are on the world's biggest stage, you have to keep your shining star," Jones said.

• Strawberry and Wilson didn’t just share their favorite memories of Carter. They also talked about the glory days, when the Mets -- not the Yankees -- were the kings of baseball in New York City. So how do the Metropolitans get back on top? From the Times’ Harvey Araton:

It is part of the fans’ and sportswriters’ DNA to demand that professional sports teams and especially those in the megamarkets go out every off-season and purchase the most expensive furniture on the market. Sometimes — and this would appear to be one of them — the more prudent strategy is to get one’s house in order first.

“The organization started building from within, started developing young players and grooming them for the next phase,” Strawberry said. “You have to start trusting your minor-league system, and you can’t get discouraged when there are tough times — and there are going to be tough times.”

• The Mets drew 42,080 fans at Citi Field, the most fans they’ve ever drawn for a game in the ballpark’s young history. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica has more about what turned out to be a fun day in the sun. Among those in attendance, Josh Thole’s parents.

Mike Thole, father of the Mets catcher, said, “I still get to go to a game on Opening Day with my son, it’s just a little different now than it used to be,” before he and his wife walked toward Citi Field. In a little while the top of the first against the Braves would end with the ball in Josh Thole’s mitt after the first strikeout by Johan Santana in a long time.

Fifty years after it all began for the Mets, they honored some of the distant past because the recent past has not been much to honor or talk about or care about in New York. They honored the late Gary Carter, and so a lot of what Ron Darling calls the ’86ers were in the ballpark, some of them working and some of them just there to remember the Met known as Kid. On a day at the ballpark when everybody wanted to feel that way.

TRIVIA: David Wright has seven career Opening Day RBIs -- third-most in franchise history. Who holds the club record?

Thursday's answer: Ron Taylor pitched two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory as the Mets snapped an eight-game Opening Day losing streak with their first Opening Day win in franchise history, 5-3, over Pittsburgh in 11 on Apr. 7, 1970.