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Jacob deGrom has great expectations for day of Mets’ home opener

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The moment could come at any time. And when it does, Jacob deGrom is prepared to drop whatever he’s doing, even if that means while he’s pitching Friday against the Phillies in the Mets’ home opener.

The Mets righthander intends to witness the birth of his son.

“My plan is to be there whenever he’s born, so I’ll probably be out of the ballgame,” deGrom said.

But until that call comes, deGrom’s focus remains on taking the ball Friday.

“For him, obviously he’s one of the anchors of the staff, so hopefully the baby holds off for a day or two,” captain David Wright said. “But hopefully he gets home in time to see it because I know how excited he is.”

Life has been busy for deGrom. Off the field, he’s awaiting the birth of his son while also hoping to close on a new house in his hometown of DeLand, Florida. On the field, he’s been tabbed for the honor of pitching in the first game at Citi Field since Game 5 of the World Series.

“After a good season last year, we’re looking forward to getting back in front of our own fans, and I’m expecting a baby boy,” deGrom said. “So it’s definitely an exciting time.”

If deGrom must leave the team before first pitch, manager Terry Collins said Bartolo Colon likely will make the start. Though Steven Matz also would be available, Collins said he would prefer to go with a veteran.

“One thing about Bartolo, he handles all the situations,” Collins said. “He’s such a veteran that he’s used to having rain delays, he’s used to getting spot starts. All of those things have occurred throughout his career. So if something happens to Jake and we need a guy, I think he’s the best guy to step in.”

If he’s on the mound, deGrom said he expects the atmosphere at Citi Field to match the intensity of the second half last year, when the Mets entered their postseason run. The size of the crowds certainly should be similar.

The club will raise its National League pennant in a ceremony that begins at 12:40 p.m. and the Mets are anticipating a sellout crowd. They have spent the last few days asking fans to take public transportation.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a lot of fun to walk out there as defending National League champs. It’s going to be cool,” Collins said. “We’re just thrilled that we created some excitement last summer and got our fan base back to where it needs to be, and that is excited about our club.”

The opening-week schedule has brought several oddities, including an unusual string of days off. The Mets have been off three of the first five days and look forward to getting into the typical rhythm of the season.

But first they intend to savor the novelty of taking their own field as National League champions.

“That’s a first for me and a lot of other guys in here,” Wright said.

Since returning to New York, Wright said he already has sensed a new level of excitement. He expects an emotional day, particularly for the contingent of Mets who have yet to experience a home opener.

That class includes Matz, Eric Campbell, Kevin Plawecki, Hansel Robles, Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard.

“You see the experience they already have and you don’t realize that it’s their first Opening Day,” Wright said. “That’s pretty cool because I remember mine like it was yesterday. Hopefully they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mine.”


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