NORFOLK, JUNE 11 -- Tom Seaver is almost certain to enter the Hall of Fame and he may yet regain the form that helped him win 311 major league games. However, he did not have the stuff of legends tonight in his first performance since rejoining the New York Mets last weekend.

Seaver, 42, looking a bit heavier than his listed weight of 210 pounds, worked two-plus innings in the Mets' 7-1 exhibition loss to their Class AAA farm club, the Tidewater Tides, at Metro Park.

Seaver left after giving up three consecutive hits to start the third inning. For the record, he threw 58 pitches (37 for strikes) and was charged with seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, with one walk and two strikeouts.

Seaver wasn't thrilled by the results, but he hardly was discouraged. It may be June and the middle of the regular season for the rest of the world, but he has to treat life as if it were February and the start of spring training.

"That's probably exactly how I'd feel," Seaver said. "It's wishful thinking to want to do more. Am I happy? Certainly not. Am I totally disappointed? Certainly not.

"In spring training, you try to look for the positive things and try to be realistic. I didn't feel that I'd do this badly but it's a starting point. If you're looking for progress, it's a good starting point."

Mets Manager Davey Johnson, who watched the game in street clothes from the stands while Coach Bill Robinson directed the team from the dugout, said he wasn't displeased.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Johnson said. "The guys have been hitting for two months and they have more of an advantage. He had good command of his breaking ball and he had good enough control to throw strikes.

"It wasn't the outcome we desired but I wasn't looking at the outcome. I was looking at how he threw the ball."

The Mets need starting pitching, even if it takes the form of an aging free agent. They have been ravaged by injuries to the pitching staff that led them to last season's World Series title. Bob Ojeda is gone for the year and Rick Aguilera is still out with a sprained ligament in his elbow. New acquisition David Cone will be out at least until August, if not for the season.

"Tom can definitely help us," said reliever Jesse Orosco. "He's come at a very good time because we're shy of starting pitchers. We've gotten help from Terry Leach, but we need a guy we can use every fifth day."

Seaver and the Mets have reached an agreement. When, or if, he shows he is ready to pitch in the National League, they will sign a contract. The orginal projection date was June 20, but that likely will be delayed.

"It {tonight's performance} gives me an indication that it will be pushed back another week," Seaver said.

"That was a very aggressive assessment," Johnson said of the June 20 target date. "I was not displeased. We would have been dreaming to hope to have him throw three shutout innings {tonight} -- he's human."

Seaver said he would throw on the side or during batting practice Saturday. Johnson indicated Seaver isn't likely to pitch for one of the Mets' minor league teams before trying the major leagues.

"We discussed that," Johnson said, "but Tom felt simulated games would do the same thing, and I agreed."

The Tides got three runs off Seaver in the first, one in the second and two in the third.

"Mel {Stottlemyre, pitching coach} asked if I wanted to go another inning {after the second}," Seaver said. "I had thrown 49 pitches and he asked if I wanted to go 60. I did get tired on that last batter."

Seaver's career record is 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA. He has won 20 or more games in five seasons, the last being 1977. And he was 16-6 in 1979 and 14-2 in the strike-shortened 1981 season.

Seaver spent the first 10 1/2 seasons of his 20-year major league career with the Mets, joining the team in 1967. In 1969, when the Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles to win their first World Series, Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA and won the first of his three Cy Young awards.

On June 15, 1977, Seaver was traded to Cincinnati and he spent five full seasons with the Reds. In the last one , he had his first losing season, compiling a 5-13 record. After that season, the Reds traded him back to the Mets.

After the 1984 season, the Mets failed to protect him on the roster and the Chicago White Sox claimed him as compensation for losing free agent pitcher Dennis Lamp. Then, on June 29, 1986, he was traded from Chicago to Boston, where he helped the Red Sox win the American League East. However, he injured his knee in August and did not pitch in either the American League Championship Series or the World Series. After the season, he became a free agent.

But he still thought he could pitch. However, he only wanted to do it near his home in Connecticut.

"If I was going to play, it would have been with the Mets or Yankees," Seaver said.

He said he is sound physically. It will just take more time.

"You always expect more, regardless of how realistic you try to be," he said. "I've been that way for 20 years. When I go to the mound, I expect to get people out. It's the nature of the beast."