April storylines to watch at Citi

1 How do the Mets start out of the gate?

The first month of the season could very well play a determining factor as to where the Mets finish in the National League East. Seventeen of their first 27 games are against Florida, Philadelphia, Washington and Atlanta and 14 of those are on the road.

A good month, say .500 or better, could allow the team to build some equity with its fans and the media. A disastrous start could spell doom.

2 Can they survive without their ace?

Forget the first half, Johan Santana may be shelved for the entire season as he recovers from shoulder surgery. That leaves Mike Pelfrey, who has responded to the challenge by compiling a miserable 1-2 record and 5.63 ERA in six spring training starts. Opponents hit the 6-foot-7 righty to the tune of 35 hits, 20 runs — 15 earned — and a .337 batting average in 24 innings.

“If I honestly didn’t think that I could win, I wouldn’t show up,” Pelfrey said of taking the ball tomorrow. “I believe in what we’re capable of and what we can do.”

3 Can the big bats shake off injuries?

Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are in contract years, while Jason Bay struggled in his first season with the Mets.

Beltran, once considered the most coveted free agent on the market, missed most of spring after experiencing tendinitis in his left knee. He is, however, still on Terry Collins’ Opening Day lineup card. And the Mets will need him in midseason form, as Bay (ribs) is expected to be placed on the disabled list today.

Bay is still somewhat embarrassed by his six homers and 47 RBIs in 2010 before his season ended due to a concussion last July.

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