Because of injuries to the starting rotation, the rookie right-hander makes his major league debut Wednesday night when the Mets take on the Washington Nationals in the second game of a three-game series.
Bannister had been scheduled to make his debut Sunday against Florida, but was moved up because veteran right-hander Victor Zambrano has a strained left hamstring. With ace Pedro Martinez having his first start delayed until Thursday, Bannister, the son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister, will take the ball.
“Everbody’s coming,” Bannister said of friends and family who will be in New York to watch him pitch. “I’ll be fine with it. I’d rather have them here.”
Bannister unexpectedly beat out Aaron Heilman for a roster spot by going 1-2 with a 0.95 ERA in spring training.
The Mets’ win on opening day should reduce the pressure on the 25-year-old rookie to deliver a big performance. New York defeated Washington 3-2 on Monday behind a strong game from Tom Glavine and two of the newcomers, Xavier Nady and Billy Wagner.
Glavine allowed one run in six innings, right fielder Nady went 4-for-4 and Wagner, the closer who signed a four-year, $43 million deal during the offseason, got the save for the Mets.
“Might as well get thrown right into the fire. No use cupcakin’ it,” Wagner said.
New York also benefited from a blown call in the eighth inning by umpire Tim Tschida, who ruled Alfonso Soriano out at the plate on a relay throw from Jose Reyes. Replays showed new catcher Paul Lo Duca juggled and dropped the ball after applying the tag.
Lo Duca, acquired from Florida in December, went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his Mets debut.
The Nationals aim to even the series behind right-hander John Patterson, who is coming off his best year. Patterson went 9-7 with a 3.13 ERA in 2005, his fourth season.
While Soriano was involved at the play at the plate, his first game with the Nationals and in left field was otherwise mostly uneventful. He caught four fly balls, misjudging only a ball off the bat of Nady in the sixth inning that fell in front of him.
After a contentious offseason in which Soriano refused to move from second base after being acquired from Texas, he seemed comfortable with his new position Monday. Soriano went 2-for-3.
“Left field was great,” said Soriano, who averaged 21 errors over five seasons as a second baseman. “No troubles.”
Patterson, though, has experienced his share of troubles with the Mets while pitching against them for Arizona as well as the Nationals franchise. He’s 1-2 with a 4.92 ERA in 11 starts against New York, and his teams have gone 3-8 in those games.